Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff apologised to Lewis Hamilton for providing him with an “undriveable” car on a “terrible” day for the team at Imola.
Hamilton was left stuck outside the points throughout the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, finding himself lapped by eventual race winner Max Verstappen on his way to a disappointing P13 finish.
This result was only the second time since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix that Hamilton has been a classified finisher outside the points, alongside his P15 in Azerbaijan last season after his lock-up at the restart.
While team-mate George Russell jumped up five places on the first lap, the seven-time World Champion could not make the same headway and found himself stuck behind both Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly for the vast majority of the race, with a slow pit stop dropping him even further down the order.
As such, Wolff offered an apology over team radio after crossing the line.
George crosses the line in P4 to salvage points from a difficult weekend for the Team. pic.twitter.com/jV0YRCVV7s
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) April 24, 2022
“Lewis, hi, sorry for what you have needed to drive today. I know that this is undriveable and not what we deserved to score as a result,” he said.
“So we’ll move from there, but this was a terrible race.”
“No worries, Toto,” a forlorn-sounding Hamilton replied. “Let’s keep working hard.”
“Really bad,” Wolff then added to Sky Sports F1 when asked about Hamilton’s race. “He got squeezed by the Alpine, the other two cars [Esteban Ocon and Gasly] undercut and there’s just no overtaking when you’re in a DRS train.
“We saw with George where the car can drive if you’re in free air, but we are not good enough for a World Champion, not worthy for a World Champion. We just need to fix the car.”
Russell brought home a solid result for the Silver Arrows in the end, moving up to P4 after Charles Leclerc’s late spin at Imola – with a 12-point haul representing the best possible individual outcome for Mercedes after arguably their worst weekend of the season so far.
“George really drove well considering the car that he had underneath [him],” Wolff said.
“We missed on adjusting his front flap. That means he had a car that was set up for wet, not for dry, and he held on well. Really, really good drive.”
Mercedes are well aware of the task in front of them to get a handle on the ‘porpoising’ on their car, with the level of bouncing proving both uncomfortable for the drivers, and compounding the overall lack of speed in the W13 compared to Ferrari and Red Bull.
And Wolff knows that’s where a solution needs to be found in time for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix in a fortnight’s time.
“We’re going to look at things for Miami. I think we can make a step in the understanding of the car, and it’s another day. We just need to really understand more, [and] bring development onto the car that will fix the bouncing,” he concluded.