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F1 | Emilia Romagna GP | Toto Wolff : "It's even irrelevant whether you come in 8th or 12th or 15th...it’s all bad."

During a select media press conference (which included Motorlat) Toto Wolff explained the problems currently facing his team

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 F1 | Emilia Romagna GP | Toto Wolff : "It's even irrelevant whether you come in 8th or 12th or 15th...it’s all bad."
Fuente imagen: Hasan Bratic - Motorlat

During a select media press conference (which included Motorlat) after Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team Principal Toto Wolff explained how the performance of George Russell provided ‘one of the very few highlights’ for him as he navigates his team through a most challenging time. Seven-time F1 Drivers’ World Champion Sir Lewis Hamilton found himself stuck in a DRS train behind Pierre Gasly and the British racer’s W13 lacked the straight-line speed to break the DRS train on the straight. This coupled with the fact Imola is a circuit with limited overtaking opportunities meant a torrid afternoon for Hamilton resulting in him crossing the line in P13. After the race, Mercedes’ Team Principal Toto Wolff apologised to Hamilton over team radio for being given an "undriveable" car.

Having consistently looked off the pace, Lewis Hamilton stated he had ‘a weekend to forget’ and Toto Wolff was quick to explain to the media that this was through no fault of the seven-time F1 Drivers’ Champion.

“The car was undrivable in the way it was undrivable before. You see the straight, the bouncing on the main straight and I wonder how the two of them can even keep the car on the track at times and Lewis deserves better from us. But we are a team, so we all need to do the utmost in order to provide him with a machine that is able to fight for front positions.”

With George Russell gaining 5 places at the start following a collision between Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz, Lewis Hamilton also benefited moving up to P11 by the end of lap one - but things quickly went downhill from there.

Hamilton was undercut by a couple of cars on his only pitstop of the race but not only that, lost time due to an uncharacteristically slow lap from the team before being in a tussle with Esteban Ocon. An unsafe release from Alpine resulted in Ocon being released into Hamilton’s path as they left the pits. The Frenchman was handed a 5 second penalty for the infringement. After that, the next 44 laps were filled with frustration for the team as Hamilton was stuck in a DRS train. This situation was further explained by Toto Wolff:

“You see that when there is a DRS train like we had yesterday in the sprint race - none of them could overtake. So, it's really, if you’re boxed in in a train of cars, it's just almost impossible to overtake. I think Lewis had much more pace than Gasly or Albon or all the other guys in front of him but there's one DRS straight and if you haven't got the straight-line speed you can't pass. I think both drivers are doing the utmost and outperforming the car at the moment, and we've seen that reaping the results for George who did an outstanding race, perfect start and then handled the car that wasn't sure optimally and Lewis was just suck there in the back.” 

A great drive by George Russell saw Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula one Team salvage some useful points thanks to fourth place for the British racer. The weekend as a whole, judged by the huge standard Mecredes set, was a thoroughly disappointing one.

During Russell’s pitstop, the team had an issue with the front wing adjusters which meant the car was set up for a wet track with a corresponding aero balance – despite being the dry stint part of the race. As such, Russell experienced severe understeer which prevented him from chasing down Lando Norris for the final podium position.

Speaking to select media, which included Motorlat, Toto Wolff explained to the media how impressed he was with George Russell and the way he has settled into the team.

“I mean P4 but with Sainz and Leclerc on the track P6. That's probably as good as it gets. We had a design failure of our flap adjustment during the pit stop so we couldn't put the wing in that was necessary for his second stint so would probably be a few tenths off the pace managing understeer and he did that brilliantly so again outperforming the car.”

Despite the struggles being met at Mercedes, the team is still confident that there is a lot of potential that can be unlocked from their W13. Wolff did indicate that there may be a time when a new approach is needed - but that day has not arrived yet.

“We very much believe that the science that we are putting in at the moment will help us… we believe we have all these aerodynamic goodness, but we haven't been able to unlock it because of the bottoming of the car. So, if we are able to finally get on top of that, that means there's quite some lap time we can find – if not, we need to have another idea.

So, what is the problem with the W13? Is there only one fundamental flaw of the car or various ones? Is it aero, chassis stiffness or driving dynamics? This question was put to Toto Wolff on Sunday evening:

Good question I think the fundamental issue that in a way overclouds, overshadows everything is that our cars porpoising more than others and because of the bouncing we're not able to run it where it should run and that has a huge ramification on the setup on the tyre grip etc etc etc. And so, one is in the link to the other and I think if we were to get on top of the porpoising we would unlock much more in terms of performance in the car. if we don't get on top of that then there is a more conventional development path that we have not yet taken.

Headlines after Sunday’s Grand Prix are already speculating that Lewis Hamilton may be tempted to look elsewhere. Not only this but social media is feverishly reacting to a P13 finish for Hamilton as the British racer faces so many on track challenges. Toto Wolff though is unwavering in where the blame for Hamilton’s performance falls.

“You know we have to protect him [Lewis] here. It's not his low I think it's the low of the car performance. We know that he's a seven-time world champion…So, the guy’s the best driver in the world and he's just not having a machine and equipment underneath him to be able to execute. And to think that in a way I think it's even irrelevant whether you come in 8th or 12th or 15th it doesn’t matter, it’s all bad. But the real stars still have recovered. There is none of the really great ones that come into my mind that didn't have certain moments in their career where things didn't run properly and that is the case now with him since a long time and he's gonna help the team to sort itself out and we are, we're sticking together. Some good and bad times and today certainly was a very bad day.” Wolff concluded.

Following the events of the past weekend, Mercedes is well aware that they have work to do to deliver their drivers a quick enough car. There are clear signs for encouragement as the team could see what George Russell could achieve in clear air but battling for 4th is not what this constructor signed up to.

Mercedes have said that they are not producing a car good enough or worthy of a World Champion. However, Lewis Hamilton is World champion due to his resilience, ability, drive and skill. For that reason, when Mercedes does finally unlock the potential of the W13 – Lewis Hamilton will be ready to strike back.


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