Toto Wolff described the Sao Paulo Grand Prix as his worst weekend at Mercedes and says the team’s performance was “unacceptable” at Interlagos.
Mercedes won both the Sprint and the grand prix a year ago in Brazil, with George Russell leading home a one-two in the main race on that occasion. With high hopes of competing for victory again this year, both Russell and Lewis Hamilton struggled with a lack of pace throughout, with Hamilton finishing eighth while his team-mate retired.
“Totally baffling,” Wolff said. “It’s a good word. Totally baffling. At the same time, unacceptable for all of us. We are a proper structure, a solid team, and didn’t look like a solid team. Interestingly that within three consecutive races you finish a strong second in both of them, challenging Max (Verstappen), and then a week later you’re ending up nowhere. I believe this is just not on.
“I think sprint weekends have generally not been our strength. We are working ourselves out of problems on most weekends. Swings are on, but not on from being almost quickest to being eighth. For me personally, the worst weekend in 13 years.”
Hamilton was disqualified after the last Sprint event in Austin due to excessive wear on the plank, and Wolff admits Mercedes might have been overly conservative at Interlagos as a result but not to the extent it finished over a minute adrift of the race winner.
“Yeah, we ran the car way too high, and it’s something that you probably carry that on … But that wasn’t the main reason for an absolute off-weekend in terms of performance. There was something very fundamentally wrong, mechanically. It’s not a rear wing, and it’s not the car being slightly too high because we’re talking a millimeter or two. That’s performance but it’s not the explanation for a total off.”
Wolff believes the current generation of car is susceptible to major performance swings given how rivals have faired at certain points, but feels Mercedes suffered more than most.
“When I look at our competitors, even between the cars, even Red Bull doesn’t get things wrong often and in Singapore the car wasn’t competitive. Aston, within one week went from being outside of the points to having a solid podium. McLaren, in the first part of the season was not making it out of Q1 sometimes. Now it’s hunting Max.
“It is sometimes a nasty surprise for all of us. We got it probably as bad as some of the other teams got it.”