Lewis Hamilton and George Russell’s crashes in yesterday’s qualifying session show the Mercedes is still “tricky to drive” despite its more competitive showing in Austria, says team principal Toto Wolff.
“The car is still tricky to drive and now that we can actually fight for front positions I’m really happy to see that they attack,” he said. “Lewis, the corner before, was carrying 10kph more speed and made turn six. Then he carried 10kph more speed into seven and didn’t make the corner.”
Russell’s crash was similar, said Wolff. “You saw that he was up on his delta time and that was a particular strength of his previous runs and it went too far.
“Whether there was wind or any other conditions, I think the summary is the car is tricky to drive but it’s faster now and for me that’s absolutely okay.”
Wolff believes the two drivers would have been close to the fight for pole position yesterday. “The lap, the last few corners that Lewis attacked were the fastest overall.
“Would we have fought for pole position? I’m not sure but we would have been maybe within a tenth, a tenth and a half of the front runners.
“That’s on a circuit where our car really wasn’t happy before. So that’s improvement. And I’d rather have two cars in the wall fighting for pole than a car that is P8 and drives Steady Eddie.”
The crashes left “a lot of damage” to the team’s cars, which Wolff said they are still assessing the extent of.
“We have two floors, two [gear]boxes that we need to check, the rear wing, bits and pieces. Yesterday in the garage in the early evening it looked like somebody dropped a Lego car on the floor. The mechanics are doing great work.”
The damage will have “cost cap implications”, he added, “but the biggest is the mechanics have to work around the clock. So we hope we can have a good car for the sprint race to put us in a good position for tomorrow.”
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