"Totally unacceptable," admits Wolff


Still in shock at the seven-time world champion's early elimination, Mercedes boss admits: "This is not where we all expect the car to be."

While the fact that seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton failed to make it out of Q1 for the first time since... well since anyone car really remember... is bad enough, even more telling is the fact that by the end of qualifying only one Mercedes-powered car had made it into Q3.

While Red Bull and Ferrari continue their head-to-heads, the manufacturer that has set the standard throughout the hybrid era is clearly losing ground.

"I love competition, I always love competition," said a clearly disappointed Toto Wolff. "We had a really strong run of eight years leading the pack, not always but we kind of managed our way into the lead, but this time feels a bit like 2013 where we just weren't up to the speed of the Red Bulls and probably also the Ferraris."

2013, of course, was the year that Lewis Hamilton stepped into the seat vacated by Michael Schumacher, as Mercedes, then under the leadership of Ross Brawn, prepared for the hybrid era is was to dominate.

"We kept fighting and this is how I feel at the moment," said Wolff. "We need to fight.

"It is certainly totally unacceptable where we are on performance, " he continued, "we are third on the road, and sometimes not even that, like today. It's just not an option to stay where we are."

Equally stunned was Hamilton, whose shock was evident when told that (in Q1) he was losing seven-tenths to his teammate in the first sector.

Following his early elimination, the Briton described his car as "undriveable".

"I don't know how different the cars are set-up but the car was undriveable with the set-up I chose," admitted Hamilton. "But it's my own fault, I made some set-up changes.

"I don't know if that was everything to do with it, but it was very unstable," he admitted. "I don't what I'm going to be able to do tomorrow, but I'm a long way back."

"You can see between Lewis' and George's performance there was not huge set-up changes that happened," insisted Wolff. "But they were big enough to have dramatic consequence of the performance of the car, between going out in Q1 and making it solid into Q3.

"That's why this car is tricky to set-up, we had a lower drag rear wing, took the gurney off but still it wasn't enough to shave more drag off the car.

"Generally I would say this isn't a single problem," he added. "We have many parts of the car that don't work, that we don't understand, they don't perform enough, and this is not where we all expect the car to be."

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Published: 27/03/2022
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