Toto Wolff is frustrated that Mercedes remain in no man’s land, clearly the third fastest team but with a big gap to Red Bull and Ferrari.
Even at a quirky venue like Monaco, the status quo was never more evident than in round seven of the World Championship in which this season’s top two teams were in a class of their own.
The first four cars finished well clear of the rest, headed by Mercedes’ George Russell who maintained his run of finishing third, fourth or fifth in every grand prix this year.
But although they had been at their most competitive in 2022 so far at Barcelona a week earlier, Mercedes if anything went backwards comparatively on the streets of Monte Carlo. While Russell finished fifth, his team-mate Lewis Hamilton was down in eighth.
Quite a challenging race in Monaco today 🌧🏁 After heavy rain, two red flags, several Safety Car phases, @GeorgeRussell63 and @LewisHamilton take home P5 and P8 in a shortened #MonacoGP. 🤜🤛#WeLivePerformance @MercedesAMGF1 pic.twitter.com/Ucp4ATmPjW
— Mercedes-AMG Motorsport (@amgmotorsport) May 29, 2022
“I think we are the third team,” said Mercedes team boss Wolff, quoted by Motorsport.com. “We are not second and not fourth. We have two extremely strong drivers, but it’s a huge annoyance for all of us that that the gap is about the same.
“If you are looking at it optimistically, it’s five tenths. Pessimistically, it’s more than eight tenths. And that is clearly for all of us at Mercedes not acceptable.
“I think we are learning at the moment at every track. Literally every kilometre we are doing is an important lesson on how we can improve the car, to be honest.
“But we just need to get out of this no man’s land in which we are at the moment.”
Although there had appeared to be a breakthrough at the Spanish Grand Prix, the bouncing which has been a feature of Mercedes’ season was evident again in Monaco.
There have been suggestions the team may roll back the design of the W13 and make drastic changes to try and improve their fortunes, but Wolff now appears to be counting that out.
“If you want to change concept, you need to understand what would make a new concept faster than the current one. And I think if we would have known, we would have done it,” said Wolff.
“At the moment, it is still very much believing in the structure and organisation and trying to bring development and understanding in order to increase the pace of the car.
“I think we need to continue to just grind away and then if decisions for next year need to be taken that can’t be changed on the current car, whether it’s architecture or aerodynamically, then these decisions need to happen. But we are not at that point yet.”
Mercedes take small steps backwards again
Mercedes struggled on the streets of Monaco, but they should still look to the positives.