Toto Wolff has said that Mercedes’ Brazilian Grand Prix woes were “just not on”, admitting they “didn’t look like a solid team” at Interlagos.
After the highs of the US and Mexican GPs where Mercedes were the closest challenger to Max Verstappen, Brazil served as a crushing blow to the team just as momentum was being gathered.
A race weekend where Mercedes claimed the sprint and grand prix double win last season, this time Mercedes were well off the pace as tyre management issues hamstrung the Silver Arrows, Lewis Hamilton finishing P8 and a minute behind Brazilian GP winner Verstappen, while George Russell retired with an overheating power unit.
Toto Wolff brands Mercedes Brazil showing a career low
Speaking to media post-race, Wolff did not keep his words soft nor sweet on a “baffling” Mercedes performance, one which left them not looking like a “solid team.”
“Totally baffling,” he said. “At the same time, unacceptable for all of us. We are a proper structure, solid team. And that didn’t look like a solid team today.
“Interestingly, that within three consecutive races, you’re finishing strong second in both of them, challenging Max and then a week later, you’re ending up nowhere. And I believe this is just not on.”
Wolff has been Mercedes team principal since 2013, but never mind that performance being their worst in his tenure, on a personal level, he went back even further to cover Mercedes’ entire period since returning to the grid in 2010.
“I think sprint weekends generally haven’t been our strength,” he continued. “We are working ourselves out of problems on most weekends.
“Swings are on, but swings are not on from being almost quickest to being eighth.
“For me personally, the worst weekend in 13 years.”
Only one of Hamilton’s back-to-back P2s before the Brazilian GP actually stood, the seven-time World Champion disqualified post-US Grand Prix due to excessive plank wear on his W14, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc receiving the same treatment.
Asked if Mercedes had potentially been overcautious with ride height in Brazil as a result, Wolff argued that while Mercedes are running the W14 higher than they would like, this cannot explain their extreme underperformance.
He said: “Yeah, we run the car way too high and it’s something that you probably carry that on.
“But that wasn’t the main reason for an absolute off weekend in terms of performance. There’s something fundamentally wrong mechanically.
“It’s not a rear wing and it’s not the car being slightly too high, because we’re talking a millimetre [or two]. That is performance, but it’s not the explanation for a total off [weekend].”
Mercedes gave up ground to Ferrari in the battle to claim P2 in the Constructors’ Championship, though the gap remains 20 points in their favour with two rounds to go.