George Russell, Mercedes, Imola, 2022

Mercedes can’t claim to be championship contenders at the moment, says Wolff

2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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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.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Imola, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Emilia-Romagna sprint race in pictures
“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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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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11 comments on “Mercedes can’t claim to be championship contenders at the moment, says Wolff”

  1. Lewis Hamilton was so close to his fairytale exit.

    And now he’s stuck in a nightmare of his own making.

    1. @proesterchen His own making how? Mercedes failed with the new aero rules/didn’t get them as well as Ferrari & RBR, to which he’s entirely blameless.

      1. Lewis decided to return.

        1. @proesterchen Not really the same thing as you implied, is it? Like somehow Hamilton was responsible for this year’s Mercedes car design.

          1. The nightmare isn’t the quality (or lack thereof) of the car.

            In fact, if Lewis had gotten his exit, that would have been an incredible coda to his legacy.

            The nightmare is every km spent driving this year.

    2. Yup; $60 odd million a year and the only pressure he has got this season is what he puts on himself. Total nightmare.

  2. Let’s see tomorrow. They were stuck in a drs train but Russell seemed okay after getting out of it. Everyone needs to calm down this weekend, it has been incident party ever since Saturday.

  3. Digging yourself out of a hole is not the same as standing on top of the shoulders of those who came before. Christian managed it, now leta see how Toto manages it.

  4. It’s been kinda obvious since testing. For Lewis’ sake, hopefully it’s more of a Ferrari 2005 and back on it after 1 year rather than a Red Bull 2014 where they ended up with several years in the wilderness…

    1. Redbull were hampered by engine rather than car. The move to Honda was a result of this disadvantage they had. It took a while but Honda delivered in 2021.

  5. Noframingplease (@)
    24th April 2022, 9:40

    Not intended to be cynical, but where are those types who glorified the MB when they introduced the sidepod-less car? There was no time set at that time so a good comparison couldn’t be made, but a lot of the mainly LH fans here brought it as the seventh worldwonder ‘the biggest innovation’.

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