Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has warned rivals they should “fear” them on their losing days as those “are the days we gain the most”.
The Silver Arrows’ unbeaten start to the 2020 season has come to an end after Max Verstappen’s alternative tyre strategy paid dividends and allowed Red Bull to taste victory at Silverstone for the first time since 2012.
Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas had to settle for P2 and P3 respectively at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix and Wolff delivered some fighting talk ahead round six at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.
“We have always said that the days where we lose are the days we gain the most and the days that our competition should fear,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.
“Today is a day that shows you have to be humble in the sport. People have said this Championship is done and Mercedes are going to win every race and here you go, we haven’t.
“That’s why all of us are going to dig deep and try to understand what the problem was and look at Barcelona to see if we have some solutions.”
Elbows really are the new handshakes 😅
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) August 9, 2020
Bottas suggested in his post-race comments that Mercedes could have won the second race at Silverstone had they not been caught “sleeping” on strategy but Wolff disagrees.
“No, the win was not there for us,” Wolff added.
“Clearly we were not the fastest car and from that you cannot then optimise the strategy.
“It is not clear whether we did everything right or wrong but when you have such a margin like Max [Verstappen] had then it was ours to settle for second and third and protect these positions.”
Asked if he was surprised by Verstappen’s pace, Wolff replied: “In a way yes and in a way no.
“Because we have seen that we have this deficit in very hot track temperatures. That was the case today and that was the confirmation.
“We were not able to hold onto the tyres because of blistering and Max was posting green times all the time which means he just kept going faster.
“That is something we need to get on top of and understand.”
Wolff also said it did not cross Mercedes’ mind to start at least one car on the same starting tyre strategy as Verstappen with the hard tyre.
“I don’t think it was a thought,” Wolff confirmed.
“But our assumptions were that we wouldn’t be as bad [as the last race]. Clearly we can say we have been an outlier to the whole field [on tyre management] and we’re not quick enough, the gaps have shrunk and you saw in the race that our tyres starting to blister even harder after 10 laps and Max did 25 or 28 laps.
“We didn’t have the pace to win today and we have to congratulate Max and Red Bull as they did the better job today.”