Mercedes may have lost a podium due to a disqualification in Austin but it represented the team’s best race of the year, says Toto Wolff.
Lewis Hamilton finished in second place at the Circuit of the Americas, having been able to keep within striking distance of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen throughout the United States Grand Prix.
But, hours after the chequered flag and podium, Hamilton – along with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc – was disqualified due to excessive floor wear on his car, symptomatic of the curtailed running in practice due to the use of the Sprint format that weekend.
Toto Wolff: Austin was Mercedes’ best race in 2023
Reflecting on the 2023 season in a special video for Mercedes’ social media channels, team boss Toto Wolff picked the Austin weekend as being the best performance of the year – pointing out the disqualification for the floor had minimal impact on the overall performance of the W14.
“This might sound strange because we got disqualified, but Austin!” he replied when asked for his best race of the year.
“We brought an upgrade package that worked, the car was performing well, and we were hunting down the leader.
“You could say, ‘Well, you were disqualified for a car that was too low’, but the genuine performance was there and that was an enjoyable weekend.
“I’ve always said that I’d rather have a fast car that we haven’t tuned in the right way. And obviously, you need to finish.
“But that was the best weekend overall, seeing that the correlation between the wind tunnel and the track was good.”
Toto Wolff: P2 finish was ’emotionally important’ for Mercedes
But while that individual result in Texas went begging for Mercedes, the Brackley-based team managed to secure second place in the Constructors’ Championship ahead of Ferrari after a tense showdown in Abu Dhabi.
While a long way behind champion team Red Bull, in what was a winless season for Mercedes for the first time since 2011, Wolff said he was able to take a lot of pride in the fact his squad had rallied so well to secure second place after the disappointment of 2022.
“It’s difficult because there have been so many moments where we had high expectations and it didn’t pan out as we’d expected,” he said when asked to pick the proudest and lowest points of the year.
“Brazil was difficult, because that was such a good race for us in 2022. We dominated the whole weekend last year, the sprint race and the main race, and then in 2023, the opposite was the case. So that was a bad moment.
“A good moment was Sunday night in Abu Dhabi. I never paid lots of attention to P2 and P3; we of course want to come P1. But then finishing P2 was emotionally and morally important for the team. That was a good moment.”