An “angry” Toto Wolff has vowed that Mercedes will bounce back from a “painful” Azerbaijan GP, with the team boss explaining the world champions’ weaknesses while also defending Lewis Hamilton after his dramatic lock-up.
Mercedes finished with both cars out of the points for the first time in 55 races on Sunday as Hamilton dropped from second to 15th after the late race restart and Valtteri Bottas struggled all weekend in the other car.
- ‘Drivers will be concerned about tyre blowouts’
- Lewis Hamilton blows chance after accidentally hitting ‘magic’ button
Losing ground to leaders Red Bull in the constructors’ championship, Mercedes’ seven-point haul from the Monaco and Baku GPs is their lowest two-race total since before Hamilton joined in 2012.
While the team were on for at least 18 points due to Max Verstappen’s crash before Hamilton fell down the order, Wolff believes the unique street circuit layouts just didn’t suit the W12.
“In Monaco and here we didn’t have a car that was competitive, full stop,” Wolff told Sky F1. “We lose all the time in the twisty old town, and this is what happened in Monaco.
“You could see in the middle sector, we were really close, we were quicker on the straight – but the middle sector was just a total shocker.”
Wolff, who also highlighted issues with Mercedes’ race starts and “operational mistakes”, continued: “It’s not a shocker that a car that has won three races is now nowhere. It’s not.
“We know the deficits, we’ve seen that in this particular part of the tracks and we know that we have gaps that we just need to overcome.”
Mercedes to ‘transfer anger’ into French GP
Speaking in a post-race Mercedes video on social media, Wolff said the weekend was “such a painful experience”.
“We weren’t good enough and if we want to win this championship we need to bring our A-game,” he stated. “We need to give the drivers a car that is competitive and I guess we were only in a position to win the race because Max shunted out. It’s going to hurt for a few days, but we’ll bring our top game to the next race.”
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Mercedes do indeed fancy their chances for the French GP in two weeks’ time, and perhaps rightly so given they have won both races at Paul Ricard since its 2018 return, and have appeared much more competitive at similar tracks in 2021.
The team comfortably won back-to-back races in Portugal and Spain before heading to Monaco.
“I have no doubt [we will bounce back],” said Wolff. “This is a team that is so strong. I’m so angry, and we are going to transfer the anger into positive force. We are warriors and we are going to come back.”
Wolff: Hamilton ‘doesn’t make mistakes’
Wolff also refused to accept that Hamilton made a “mistake” when locking up out of the points in Baku.
Hamilton looked set to take the lead off Perez at the race restart on Lap 50 of 51 before missing the corner completely, with the Englishman having accidentally switched Mercedes’ “magic” brake switch which changed the brake balance.
Hamilton said he was “very sorry” to Mercedes but Wolff absolved his star driver of blame.
The team boss, preparing for a four-hour flight home with Hamilton on Sunday night, said: “I just need to let him know that this wasn’t because of a mistake by him.
“He doesn’t make any mistakes. That is what you need to remember. I wouldn’t wish for anyone else to be in the car.”
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