Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff offered a downbeat summary of the Austrian Grand Prix sprint as Lewis Hamilton struggled to pass the two Haas cars.
Hamilton lined up P9 for the second sprint of the 2022 season, a crash during Q3 on Friday having ended the Briton’s session early when he had been looking like a contender to challenge for the top positions.
A hit from Pierre Gasly at the start of the sprint proved a further setback for Hamilton, but he fought his way back into the top 10.
His progress hit a roadblock though when he came up behind Haas duo Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher, eventually passing the latter in the closing stages to secure P8 on the grid for the Austrian Grand Prix.
Wolff said the “draggy” W13 was hampering Hamilton in that battle alongside a general lack of performance.
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Put to Wolff by Sky Sports F1 that Mick had shown real fighting spirit, comparable to that of his father, ex-Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher, Wolff replied: “It’s a fight for position and they have an advantage because we are so draggy.
“And maybe also a bit of performance here, so overall, yeah, you need to do that.”
George Russell was able to claim P4 on the grid in the other Mercedes, staying out of the reach of Sergio Perez who came storming through the pack in the Red Bull.
Nonetheless, Wolff could not take too much satisfaction, saying the pace Mercedes had been hoping for never materalised.
“Still disappointing,” he stated. “We are just lacking pace here.
“Contrary to what we had in the previous races where we were really good on Sundays. Here, somehow it didn’t come.”
Ex-Formula 1 driver turned Sky Sports F1 pundit Johnny Herbert believes Red Bull and Ferrari ahead will now be out of reach for Mercedes come the grand prix.
If they can hold on to P4, he would see that as a strong result for the Silver Arrows.
“I think they are in a situation where it will be a lot longer, so there will be a lot more [tyre] management. I think strategy will come into play at the same time,” said Herbert, looking ahead to the main race.
“I think they can see from George there is pace there, but will they actually attack the Ferraris and Red Bulls in front? Probably not. They will struggle.
“They just have to get themselves in that fourth, fifth, sixth position.”