Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says that the reigning eight time constructors’ champions can no longer consider themselves among the title contenders in 2022.George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished 11th and 14th respectively in the sprint race for tomorrow’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, failing to gain any places over their starting positions, with Hamilton losing one during the sprint race.
Facing the prospect of struggling to even score points in tomorrow’s grand prix, Wolff admitted Mercedes cannot consider themselves a front-running team at present.
“We are four races in and probably today marks the low of these first four races,” he said.
“It’s obvious that we are not anywhere near the fight at the front. It would be a pretty unrealistic to claim to have a slot amongst the front runners for fighting for the championship.”
Asked by RaceFans whether they are likely to be in contention for points on Sunday, Wolff said he was disappointed to be targeting a top-10 result.
“I think point scoring needs to be the minimum, but this is not where we set our expectations and therefore this weekend is a complete write-off,” Wolff said.
“You can say, well, we’re trying to learn. But we weren’t great with tyre warm-up – that’s why there’s no miracles that you can expect but the race start because overtaking is so difficult. We can make up positions, we’ve shown it today, but not quickly enough. And, therefore, beyond the fact that we are learning, it’s another humbling experience.”
Wolff explained a televised exchange between him and Hamilton after qualifying yesterday which some interpreted as signs of an argument between the pair. He said they were expressing their shared frustration at both cars being eliminated in Q2.
“It’s quite funny how it’s being interpreted,” said Wolff. “Lewis and I shared frustration about that we weren’t really able to extract lap one performance and how annoying it was. But it was the same point of view and just sheer anger. There is no division, there’s no blaming or anything of that.
“There’s pressure in the system but I would say the necessary pressure to get things right. Nobody in the team is anywhere near enjoying the ride at the moment and this team, we’ve done it in the past. and we just need to dig ourselves out of that hole.”
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2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix
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