Toto Wolff at a loss after ‘bruising day’ with Mercedes’ pace drop in Austria

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff on the pit wall. Bahrain February 2023.

A clearly downbeat Toto Wolff saw his Mercedes team struggle for pace in the Austrian Grand Prix and does not know why.

After far improved showings for Mercedes in Spain and Canada with their upgraded W14 challenger, the next battleground was Austria.

Antics with Max Verstappen on Saturday saw Lewis Hamilton eliminated in the first stage of qualifying for the sprint, but after that recovery drive was complete, focus turned to the race where Hamilton started from P5, with team-mate George Russell P11 on the grid.

“Bruising day” of pace struggles for Mercedes

While Russell was able to gain places to finish P8, it was perhaps not the kind of rise up the order expected, while Hamilton would drop to a P7 finish, having lost out to two Mercedes customer cars, Lando Norris in the McLaren and Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin.

Post-race penalties for track limits breaches saw Hamilton and Russell swap places, with Russell now P7 and Hamilton P8 in the final order.

Hamilton was one of many drivers to have five seconds added to their in-race time for repeatedly breaching track limits, though that added disadvantage did little to cushion what was a major hit to Mercedes’ momentum, with Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin all having faster challengers.

诺里斯是驱动升级迈凯轮MCL60工程r the fast-tracked package arrived for Austria, with a further step expected for next weekend’s British Grand Prix, where Oscar Piastri will also have the upgraded McLaren.

Mercedes then do not have much time to pick themselves up and dust down before returning to action after a race where they lacked performance, and have no idea why at this stage.

“Our car had no pace today,” Wolff told Sky F1. “It’s a bruising day I would say because we had such a good upward trend and then you have to take such a day.

“There was no pace. No inkling why yet.”


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Lewis Hamilton complains about W14 brakes

During his opening stint Hamilton was complaining that his brakes were not working correctly, though Wolff had a different theory for why Hamilton had this feeling at the wheel of the W14.

Rather than dodgy brakes, Wolff feels the actual problem was that as Hamilton battled Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez at that stage of the race, he was actually finding that sliding on the Pirelli tyres was destroying the grip.

“I think that the moment you slide those tyres, either on braking or through the corners, you just have no grip and this is what happened,” Wolff reasoned.

Hamilton will likely take encouragement from the fact that next up is his home race, the British Grand Prix, a race he has won a record eight times.

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