Toto Wolff dismisses Mercedes qualifying performance as ‘one to put in the toilet’

Sam Cooper
Toto Wolff watches Barcelona testing from the Mercedes garage. February 2022

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff watches Barcelona testing from the Mercedes garage. February 2022

Toto Wolff made a reference to the lesser-known occasion of ‘World Toilet Day’ when asked to sum up Mercedes’ Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying session.

Having taken a huge stride forward in Sao Paulo, Mercedes found themselves on the back foot again with both Ferraris and Red Bulls starting ahead of them at Yas Marina.

With Lewis Hamilton topping the timesheets ahead of George Russell in FP1, it looked as if Mercedes’ good form was set to continue but that fell away with every session, a Red Bull driver going on to be quickest in FP2 and FP3.

Come qualifying, Mercedes flirted with pole position as Russell set the early benchmark in Q3 but soon Red Bull gained supremacy, working in tandem to put Max Verstappen on pole with Sergio Perez in P2.

Mercedes could only manage a third-row start with the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc also starting ahead of them.

In summing up Mercedes’ outing, team boss Wolff described it as “one to put in the toilet”.

“I just heard today is World Toilet Day,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1. “I think that’s one to put in the toilet.

“We didn’t get the job done. I think we went backwards and they (Ferrari and Red Bull) took a little step forward.

“We went on a high downforce, high drag concept to have a good race car tomorrow and that was just so slow on the straights it didn’t give anything.”

Russell went on a low downforce set-up in Q3 but Wolff said they were not tempted to do that in qualifying as they believe the original set-up will be better for the race.

“We have to believe that for tomorrow it’s so much better to have more downforce to protect the tyres. Let’s see,” said the Austrian.

It was not only speed that seemingly hampered Mercedes either as Hamilton complained of a brake issue and Wolff explained it is a problem that unsettles the car.

“We have this old brake split situation that practically every qualifying session, they start the lap and the brake splits means the left is not doing what the right does and that unsettles the car under braking,” he explained.

Wolff was asked if it was “one for the winter” and replied: “A big one for the winter.”