A dour Toto Wolff has dubbed Mercedes’ performance in the Brazilian Grand Prix as ‘inexcusable’ after falling back through the race.
Mercedes could only manage a solitary eighth place at Interlagos, courtest of Lewis Hamilton, as the two W14s fell backward after a reasonably strong start to the race. However, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly were able to get ahead as Mercedes settled into eighth and ninth place with Hamilton and Russell respectively.
However, Russell’s race came to a premature end as his power unit neared the point of failure – Mercedes opting to bring him into the pits to retire rather than try to nurse the car to the finish. Russell had been coming under pressure from Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, due to the amount of lift and coast he was doing.
Toto Wolff has ‘no words’ after dire Mercedes performance
Having watched on as his cars failed to make any impression on the Brazilian Grand Prix, Toto Wolff couldn’t disguise his disappointment as he spoke to Sky F1 following the race.
“Inexcusable performance,” he summed up Mercedes’ race.
“There’s even no words for that. That car finished second last week and the week before and, whatever we did to it, was horrible.
“Lewis survived out there but George… I can only feel for the two drivers with such a miserable thing.
“So it shows how difficult the car is, it’s on a knife’s edge. We’ve got to develop that better for next year because it can’t be that, within seven days, you’re finishing on the podium as one of the two quickest cars and then you’re nowhere.”
Asked whether the impact of the Sprint format, with a lack of practice time before the implementation of parc ferme conditions after FP1, had had any bearing on Mercedes not nailing their setup, Wolff said he doesn’t think it’s the full story.
“We’re clearly not World Champions on sprint race weekends,” he said.
“But it still doesn’t explain what went wrong. I mean, the car almost drove like it was three wheels and not on four.”
With the W14 looking as though it will be Mercedes’ first winless car since the W02 from 2011, Wolff said the car’s performance doesn’t merit a victory at this point.
“This car doesn’t deserve a win,” he said.
“I think we need to push for the last two races and recover. That’s the most important thing and see what we can do in Las Vegas with a totally different track, and Abu Dhabi, but the performance today was… I’m just lacking words.
“I think straight-line speed was one issue. That was probably not the main factor.
“The main factor was that we couldn’t go around the corners with the bigger wing with the pace we needed and we were killing the tyres just eating them up within a few laps.”