Lando Norris, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Time lost behind Norris cost Mercedes chance to race Verstappen – Wolff

2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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Toto Wolff says Mercedes’ drivers had the pace to race against Max Verstappen in the Austrian Grand Prix were it not for Lando Norris starting the race ahead of them.

Red Bull’s Verstappen and McLaren’s Norris qualified on the front row, while Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas line up fourth and fifth.

Norris kept ahead of the Mercedes through the first quarter of the 71-lap race. Hamilton overtook him on lap 20 and Bottas got by when they both made their first pit stop. While Bottas showed Verstappen-rivalling pace, Hamilton slowed with damage and fell back to fourth behind the McLaren again.

Wolff saw the positives for his team on an afternoon when Verstappen scored an emphatic victory. “I think it is a good result because I think if we wouldn’t have been stuck behind the McLaren at the beginning, where we lost chunks of time, we would have been racing him,” he said.

“I’m not sure that it would have been enough to win the race, but race pace was there and would have been good.

“You can see that particularly also with Valtteri’s pace once Lewis lost downforce. The pace was there, there was never any risks from the back. So in a way, that Sunday was much better than last Sunday in what we would expect in terms of performance of the car.”

Bottas finished 17.9 seconds behind winner Verstappen, while Hamilton was 46.4s adrift.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Gallery: 2021 Austrian Grand Prix in pictures
The damage to Hamilton’s car cost him “about 30 points” of downforce, said Wolff, which led to him “pushing the tyres in a direction that wouldn’t have made it to the end”.

As Hamilton lost performance, Bottas closed in but was initially told to hold position behind his team mate. Mercedes were evaluating “whether it was possible that Valtteri could have protected against Lando”, said Wolff. “But that wasn’t possible”.

Once Bottas passed his team mate, he sat a few seconds ahead of Norris and was the highest-placed finisher on the one-stop strategy. Hamilton later made a second pit stop for fresh tyres and a balance adjustment to mitigate the effects of the damage.

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2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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21 comments on “Time lost behind Norris cost Mercedes chance to race Verstappen – Wolff”

  1. I wonder if Wolff is hinting Norris should have let HAM by as a favor to Merc as they provide McLaren with their engines?
    It seems in the past it has been done.
    Merc may be kicking themselves for supplying them as they are now quite formidable.

    1. I think Wolff is just hiding behind the fact that they ran several laps behind Norris to save himself and his team some embarrassment. Redbull totally out performed Mercedes today Norris or not and it is not something to be ashamed about.

      1. Agree with this, when I see mercedes is faster like in france I say it but here, just like the previous race, red bull’s pace was superior in verstappen’s hands.

    2. I never understood why they give engines to McLaren but not Red Bull as both teams were very good and a concurent of Mercedes.

  2. Dont blame Norris. Its simply because Mclaren performance able give to hard time to merc team.

  3. Is Toto forgetting that Verstappen pitted 10 laps from the end, had Bottas around 8 seconds behind after his stop and the. Finished near 18 seconds behind.

    Mercedes have had 7 years with little interruptions to their WDC or WCC trophies. Ferrari gave them a minor stumbling block in 2018, but, RBR are showing that they are not a ‘fizzy drinks manufacturer’!

    1. Indeed @maddme. And Bottas wouldn’t have even been ahead of Norris if not for that penalty. And that same incident is probably the only reason both Mercedes did not finish behind Perez as well.

      And he completely ignores that Norris was gaining on the both of them towards the end, they weren’t going faster than him at all, apart form that first stint with Hamilton who looked like he was committed to a 2 stopper so did not have to save his tyres for a longer first stint.

    2. Did you expect Bottas to catch a Verstappen on fresh tyres after that pit stop?

  4. Poor Toto. It must have been an awful shock for him to realize Mercedes doesn’t occupy the front row by default anymore.
    Elsewhere I read he wants to crush the opposition by 30 seconds in the next race. He seems really desperate.

    1. why wouldn’t he want to crush the opposition by 30 seconds in the next race?
      also according to the comments in this website until 3 races ago, Mercedes was sandbagging and was clearly the dominant car of 2021. we have to land on a position at some point…

      1. And my position is it’s track dependant, silverstone is a good track for them and especially hamilton, unlike austria, so it’ll be important to determine the balance of the title, so far obviously red bull is ahead also on speed, but they also had 4 tracks where they were expected to be strong compared to merc.

  5. We’re not even halfway into the season and already Bottas is on public radio supposed to sacrifice his race for Hamilton as a matter of course when Hamilton has damaged his car. It’s embarrassing and humiliating. The worst part is that Mercedes is always going on about their ‘values’.

  6. No Toto. Just… no.

    And yes, Perez not doing himself and RBR a favor this race is a nice gift (not on merit). So there is something to be happy about. But then you’d be an optimist. Because what really happened is that without Norris’ bogus penalty you would be beaten to second by a customer team. Point to RBR and Honda all you want

  7. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    4th July 2021, 21:15

    No Toto you and Lewis are wasting energy in last months creating false claims on whatever your fantasia could find on Red Bull’s car or operation instead of focussing on themselves.

    Mercedes just didn’t do their job, nor did Lewis. If Noris would have qualified 5th you would still not be able to race Max, simply because Red Bull and Max perform better.

  8. I’m sure it hurts to get just dropped like that so maybe some denial going on. But verstappen put a whole pit stop on them. They had no chance. The fact that Norris was coming back at them shows that they may fall behind other high rake cars too unless they figure out some trick to clean up the rear floor.

    1. Indeed, but to be fair, I think this is the exception to the rule, austria is normally bad for mercedes and probably suits mclaren too, I expect norris won’t have a lot of chances to stay ahead of them.

    2. There is no solution but to go higher rake and get more floor area.
      The disadvantage though is with the limited wind tunnel and CFD impositions coupled with the success aero ballast, Mercedes may end up being off the pace next year.

      1. They would need to raise the floor to the bottom of the rear brake duct. We’re taking about suspension redesign, possibly with related gearbox changes for half shaft and suspension pick ups. Never mind that the entire vortices structure coming off the front wings and barge boards would need a rework. Entirely new set up principles will be required when all that is done. That’s a brand new car basically.

        1. Exactly and no time or money to carry out that investigation.

  9. Mercedes please stop whining. This is what it looks like when you actually have competitors. Something you have to get used to and therefore is a huge compliment to your past achievements. Now, please get on with your tasks because we were (contrary to your narratives) sincere when we said we love competition. Nobody wants RB to win the next 8 years (except RB team itself ofcourse). So get you show together and stop making these silly mistakes for one. Then secondly, George per direct. Do it today. There is no excuse. Dont protect Lewis, his time is done. And if not now than in a few years. Look towards the future. Lauda would have told you the same

  10. It’s Mercedes vs The Dethroners!

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