Winning the Hungarian Grand Prix by 34 seconds, Toto Wolff has joked that Red Bull’s RB19 is making the rest of the field look like “F2 cars”.
Mercedes has a brief moment of celebration at the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend when Lewis Hamilton beat Max Verstappen to pole position by 0.003s.
It was the Briton’s first pole position of the season, in fact, his first since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, and it marked his ninth at the Hungaroring – a new record for the most pole positions at one circuit.
Toto Wolff: Having the second fastest car on the grid is irrelevant
But any aspirations he had of winning the grand prix were shattered at the very first corner of the race when Verstappen sliced up the inside to take the lead and set himself up for his ninth win of the championship.
It was a victory he claimed by 34 seconds ahead of the McLaren of Lando Norris while Hamilton was a further five seconds back in fourth place.
The seven-time World Champion has since questioned Mercedes’ engine modes before stating: “The reality is we’re not fast enough. They told me the strategy this morning, I would be at least six, five-tenths slower than the Red Bulls. The fight was not with Max.”
Despite losing out to Norris and also Sergio Perez, Mercedes motorsport boss Wolff reckons the W14 was the second fastest car on the grid on Sunday, but he concedes that’s “irrelevant” when they’re still being beaten by some 30-odd seconds.
Speaking to the media, he said: “The whole weekend we can talk each other up and say we had could have been, we would have been, second.
“But in a way that’s irrelevant because you have a car in the front and that gap is 30 seconds, and probably it was cruising for a long time and that’s the bigger reality.
“It’s a meritocracy. As long as you’re moving within the regulations, then overall you have just done a better job and we just need to acknowledge that.”
For Hamilton, it was a case of what could’ve been had he not fallen to fourth in the first two corners, and also if his pace in the opening stint had been equal to his speed in the final stint where he was one of the quickest and closed in on Perez.
At the end of the day though, Wolff says such is the RB19’s superiority over the chasing pack, it makes them all look like “F2 cars”.
“We lost a lot of time at the beginning and gained massive chunks back at the end,” said Wolff, “but that’s a balance. We need to look at striking that balance right.
“And surprisingly, it sounds in terms of data you see it was quick, quick in terms of the rest of the world – and in the F2 car, it was quick. The F1 car won by 30 seconds.
“So yeah in a way it’s really irrelevant. We need to calculate it and say what can we do better in the next race and then optimise from there.”
Although Mercedes have retained second place in the Constructors’ Championship, the Brackley squad now trails Red Bull by 229 points. However, their advantage over Aston Martin has grown to 39 points.