It was an action-packed afternoon in Imola, where Mercedes went from having two cars apparently out of the game to wounding off with a great second place for Hamilton.
After starting off from the 99th pole position of his career, Lewis Hamilton locked up on Lap 31 at Tosa (Turn 7), damaging his front wing. As he was slowly recovering his car running in reverse gear over the gravel, a terrifying accident at Tamburello involving Bottas and Russell happened.
Both were thankfully unhurt, but Bottas was very heated up and Russell looked furious as another potential points finish slipped away from him.
During the post-race conference with selected media including MotorLat, Team Principal Toto Wolff appeared extremely mad, describing the whole Bottas-Russell crash as “absolutely not amusing.”
“It is quite a big shunt actually. Our car is destroyed and is currently in a closed-kept environment. This is certainly not what we were expecting.''
Moreover, Mercedes’ boss is fearing this accident could hinder the development of the 2022 car – Indeed, the new budget cap regulations introduced by the FIA represent a huge issue, according to Wolff.
“This might also limit the upgrades we’ll be able to do. Today’s crash could hinder the 2022 development…We’re very strict on cost cap. What we fear is that we have to get rid of the car without being able to save anything.
“The fact that we ended there, losing both cars on the wet is not what I expect,” Wolff commented.
Toto Wolff was asked about the emotions going on inside the garage and described it as a real “up and down.''
From here: To here: pic.twitter.com/ZnKSbgBJwL— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) April 18, 2021
“Turn 1 ok, turn 2 looked like we lost the race with front wing damage and but then Lewis recovered and we saw there was damage but we could’ve kept going.''
After escaping the first retirement of the season, a new incident happened, this time involving the Finnish Valtteri Bottas.
“At that stage we had two cars out and no points at all…eventually we ended up with a nice P2 and a great recovery drive from Lewis.
“But I just cannot overlook the fact that we literally lost one car and Valtteri didn’t finish the race.”
Mercedes’ Team Principal was obviously far from satisfied with the result today. He looked extremely disappointed especially for the crash involving Bottas and the young British driver George Russell, who also happens to be a Mercedes reserve driver and he’s rumoured to be substituting the Fin starting from next year.
“I’m definitely going to speak to George and make my point.
“There’s never such a situation in life where one is fully responsible and the other isn’t to blame. The whole situation should’ve never happened.
“George shouldn’t have gone into that manoeuvre. Considering that the track was drying up and the car in front of you is a Mercedes…you must never lose this global perspective.”
“I guess he still lots to learn from this,” Wolff concluded.
Wolff was particularly discontented because given that he had a Mercedes in front, Russell should have handled the entire situation differently.
“He should’ve handled it differently, first of all because it was a Mercedes in front and he’s part of the family so he should haven’t launched the car that way…he doesn’t have anything to prove to us.
“Second, the odds were against him anyway, the track was drying up…he should not have taken that risk.”
Talking about Hamilton’s recovery, Mercedes’ boss described the recovery drive as ‘incredible.’
“Lewis very rarely makes mistakes; I don’t think that is because of the Championship battle being so close. It just happened; we were simply unlucky today”
“We thought we would finish the race with a double zero, so getting to a P2 is incredible”, the TP commented.
Lastly, the Austrian TP was asked about the close battle between Lewis and Max Verstappen and jokingly said:
“Well, you hope the battle is close… I don’t”
“We are still having deficits with the car. Yesterday we ended up on pole but if Max put in a clean lap, we’re still 2,5 tenths behind, maybe 3. This is how it is at the moment”
“Today was very difficult to judge because of the weather conditions but we had a very good car, considering the circumstances.
“We are still analysing the data trying to know better the car but we surely do not have a car and power unit able to match the Red Bull’s,” Toto Wolff concluded.