Formula 1

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff: “We were third-quickest on the road, this is where we are”

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Credit: Jiri Krenek

Toto Wolff believed his Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team maximised the points on offer to them in Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix, with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton ending fifth and sixth respectively.

From twelfth on the grid, Russell started on the hard compound tyre and took his pit stop behind the safety car late in the race, and with the chance of running fresher tyres was able to jump both Valtteri Bottas (after the Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN driver made a mistake) and team-mate Hamilton to end the day fifth.

Hamilton survived first corner contact with Fernando Alonso and was running sixth at the safety car restart, and although he fell behind Russell, he too was able to capitalise on Bottas’ mistake to end the day in sixth.

Wolff says both Oracle Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari are currently ahead of them in the pecking order in 2022, and they will be doing a lot of research before the Spanish Grand Prix later this month to understand why the pace they showed on Friday did not translate into a strong weekend at the Miami International Autodrome.

“We maximised our points today – with George’s starting position, we could afford to roll the dice on a long stint on the Hard and it worked out for him with the safety car, while it was unfortunate for Lewis,” said Wolff.

“We were third-quickest on the road, this is where we are, we don’t sometimes show it in qualifying but in the races, we’re generally better. We had a good Friday but didn’t quite understand why that was.

“We will be looking at all the data we’ve generated this weekend, working through the sessions on Friday to better understand the strong performance, and take those learnings back to Europe.”

“We’re under no illusion that we must close that lap time gap down” – Andrew Shovlin

Andrew Shovlin, the Trackside Engineering Director at Mercedes, was agreement with his Team Principal, and believed the team took home as many points as they could have done with the W13 as it is.

Both Russell and Hamilton were quick during Friday’s free practice sessions in Miami – Russell even topped the second session – but that pace appeared to disappear for the rest of the weekend, and they were nowhere near the battle for the race victory when it mattered on Sunday.

Shovlin says the team will need to work out just what went wrong for the team on Saturday and Sunday that left them well adrift of the Red Bull/Ferrari battle at the front.

“We maximised the result that was possible today and both drivers did a good job,” said Shovlin. “Lewis was unlucky with the safety car but both did well to get ahead of Valtteri.

“The car showed signs of promise on Friday on low and high fuel so it’s disappointing to see that the gap to the front was no smaller today. However, there may be something to learn from that running so we’ll pick through the data to see if we can see understand what may have changed.

“It was encouraging to see that pit stops and reliability were strong as good operations have helped us keep the points gap to the leaders to a minimum so far this season.

“However, we’re under no illusion that we must close that lap time gap down in the next few weeks if we are to present any kind of challenge to Red Bull or Ferrari.”

Lewis Hamilton finished behind George Russell despite starting six places ahead of his team-mate – Credit: Jiri Krenek
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Thirty-something motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 3. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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