Wolff, Hamilton ‘both destroyed’ after Baku lock-up

Date published: June 8 2021 - Henry Valantine

Lewis Hamilton goes off track during the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Toto Wolff said he and Lewis Hamilton felt “destroyed” after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with the Briton missing the chance to regain the World Championship lead.

Hamilton had pulled off a superb feat by putting his under-performing Mercedes on the front row in Baku.

Even though his pit-stop was hampered by having to wait for Pierre Gasly to pass him, leaving him behind both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, he was still in position for what was an unlikely podium after his troubles in practice.

After Verstappen’s late tyre failure caused the race to be red-flagged ahead of a two-lap sprint to the line, Hamilton had a golden chance to take a place in the top two and re-assert himself in his quest for an unprecedented eighth World Championship.

The restart saw the Mercedes driver accidentally flick a switch that dramatically altered his brake balance off the line, however, which meant he locked up heavily and went straight on at Turn 1 – leaving Hamilton without a points-scoring finish for the first time in 54 races.

“Both of us are destroyed, to be honest,” said Wolff, quoted by Motorsport.com. “For him obviously, as a driver, you have it, it’s so close and then it’s all gone.

“We just need to be the best – the best of us and the best we have. And we haven’t given the drivers a competitive package this weekend. It’s been far from a competitive package.

“That’s the frustration. It’s not only the incident at the end that frustrates. It’s overall not meeting our own expectations. All of us together – Lewis, the engineers, myself, everybody in the team.”

He added: “I think there’s lots of things that are not running smoothly as they have in the past few years – operationally we are not at our A-game.

“We haven’t found really the sweet spot of the car through qualifying and race, of having a quick qualifying car and a quick race car.

“There’s just so much we need to improve that I just want to get on it right now, after this call, in order to make sure we are actually able to compete for this championship.

“You can’t continue losing points, like we’ve done in Monaco and here. It’s just not acceptable for all of us.”

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The team’s struggles were exacerbated by the lack of competitiveness in Valtteri Bottas’ side of the garage too – with the Finn only qualifying P10 and finishing outside the points in arguably his worst weekend in a Mercedes car from the perspective of outright speed.

Alongside Mercedes’ toil endured in Monaco before their trouble in Baku, the team principal was asked if he felt the past few weeks have been the most difficult of his time with the team so far.

“Yeah, they are the toughest,” Wolff confirmed. “Because not having performance in Monaco, and Valtteri, who would have made it solid on the podium, needing a pit-stop of 36 hours, is not really a great achievement based on the standards we are setting ourselves.

“Then the car that was almost all sessions [in Baku] nowhere. Then, to be honest, cruising in third and even trying to make it was okay.

“But it’s just not acceptable that we are not getting the car into a performant position after the start, or out of the pit-stops. It’s just we are losing seconds over seconds.”

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