Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Paul Ricard, 2022

Mercedes’ lack of performance at Paul Ricard “a slap in the face” – Wolff

2022 French Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff didn’t think it was possible they would end qualifying for the French Grand Prix so far behind Ferrari and Red Bull.

The team arrived at the Paul Ricard expecting its smooth surface and quick corners would suit them. But despite also bringing upgrades to their W13 the team has lagged off the pace since the weekend began.

Lewis Hamilton ended qualifying fourth, almost eight-tenths of a second behind pole-winner Charles Leclerc. George Russell was two-tenths of a second further behind in the other Mercedes.

“If you would have told me that we are ending up [there] I would have said that’s not possible,” Wolff admitted afterwards. “So that’s a bit of a slap in the face.”

Mercedes’ reversal in form came as a particular surprise after encouraging weekends at Silverstone and the Red Bull Ring, he said.

“We were slowly but surely working our way back to the front-runners and there were good signs in Silverstone,” Wolff told media including RaceFans today. “Then we went to Austria, a track where we are normally not competitive at all and we could clearly see the signs why we were not competitive but we were close. It’s a one-minute circuit and we were three tenths off so that was acceptable.

“Then we brought quite a nice update package to Paul Ricard, the track is smooth, off we go, let’s hunt them down. And boom, no performance. Like, no performance and we can’t figure it out, what went wrong.”

The team ran through several set-up changes in their efforts to understand their lack of pace.

“We experimented with rear wings, from almost the biggest we have – which Lewis described as dragging a parachute behind him this morning – to a smaller version which makes us lose too much speed in the corners. Then we experimented with tyre temperatures.”

Wolff admitted the team is at a loss to explain some of the drastic swings in performance it has encountered.

“We are seeing within one session we go from totally uncompetitive in the first sector to – second run in Q3 – we’re the best in sector one. [From] uncompetitive in sector one, dreadful, to being the quickest in sector one at the end, and the opposite in the last sector.

“So clearly there’s something happening, whether it’s wind-affected or tyre-dependant, that is just not working on our car. The car is on the edge and between hero and zero there is just a super-fine margin that we don’t seem to hit and understand.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 French Grand Prix

Browse all 2022 French Grand Prix articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

15 comments on “Mercedes’ lack of performance at Paul Ricard “a slap in the face” – Wolff”

  1. After all those years of going into Grand Prix weekends knowing which team would get pole position and second place and who would win the race and ultimately both championships… I won’t lie, I breathed a little sigh of relief to see Mercedes are still not there. Let them be on the back foot for at least this season. Just give us a little bit more of a reprieve from Mercedes, that is fine with me.

  2. Of course all the other teams are improving as well through upgrades and better understanding the ideal set-ups.

  3. The only slap in the face I see is to the teams who got their designs right and now have work to do for 2023 because Merc lobbied to get the regs changed on the grounds of “safety.” 

    Such garbage from Merc and the FIA. 

    What the F is wrong with the FIA anyway? This sport isnt that difficult to police or be consistent about yet race after race the rules seem to change, zero consistency on calls that are black and white. Would Mick have his lap deleted at the beginning of the season? nope. But this constant capitulation to Merc is getting outta hand. They screwed up their concept so THEY should be punished not the rest of the field who got it right. 

    1. Now go back to the previous seasons and count how many regulation changes were against Mercedes, often not even related to safety, but “cost”, or performance cutting for “better racing”. Many of the changes triggered by Redbull. So let them have a taste of their own medicine for once. They have no second thoughts about playing the politics card.

      1. I cant think of anything RB have done that equates to this.

        The simple fix to raise the ride height. Merc doesnt want to do this because they lose performance so the fix is for the FIA to slow everyone else down? That aint fair.

        1. Its not that simple and not only Mercedes are affected. Secondly, teams flexing their plank more than 2mm are cheating and its right to ensure its not happening. Unfair would be to allow those teams to continue cheating.

  4. Congratulations to AMG Mercedes F1, the 2022 Wind Tunnel constructors champions.

  5. If this is a slap in the face of anyone, it’s to the journalists and “media personalities” that were fooled by Mercedes PR into believing a major update was to be introduced to their car in France (which turned out to be a different rear wheel cut-out) and would propel them to the front of the field and to their first victory.

    Will they learn? I’m not holding my breath.

  6. Still hoping for a win for Hamilton, to maintain his record of winning in every seas he’s competed. It would be a pity to end it.

    1. It only really makes you notice how good a car he had on average, but it’s interesting to see now, in a season where he didn’t have the best car at any race so far, if he manages to get a win out.

  7. They still don’t know how to run the car. The car is still too stiff, the track is smooth apart from t4 where the merc hops more than any other car. The inconsistency on performance levels come from trying to chase peak performance, the drivers don’t seem to be able to consistently tap into the times they can occasionally produce.
    Tomorrow’s race is going to be all about tyres. Merc might still have a say.

    1. Yeah I suspect they will look after their tyres more than those in front but hard to see them having enough pace been so to make an impact. Best case is they give the front runners some strategy headaches which might help Leclerc.

  8. « It’s not a matter of car »

    Welcome to reality, Toto.

  9. The way people sit with abated breathe to push thw whole Lewis in an average car cant.. Or that Lewis always drove a race winning car…scenario. While true its rhe same for every driver. But qe also forget between all the race winning cars there has been cars that were not the best that he drive over the years. Its just his and his teams relentless search fpr speed and performance and never give up attitude that has always made him and his team win a race atleast in every year here at F1. By implying Lewis is an average driver then so are the likes of Alonso, rosberg, button, and every other driver he drove against in the same machinery and in F1. We cant make up rules only for Lewis.

  10. Engeneering ideas generator
    24th July 2022, 13:17

    Cool your engine through the floor somebody!

Comments are closed.