Hamilton and Russell ‘out-performing a car that’s not good enough’ – Wolff

2022 French Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said his drivers are out-performing their car after they scored their first double podium finish of the season in France.

Lewis Hamilton scored third-place finishes in Canada, Silverstone and Austria and then secured Mercedes’ best result of the season with a second-place finish at the French Grand Prix.

He was joined on the podium by team mate George Russell, as both Mercedes reached the podium for the first time this year.

Wolff said Hamilton’s recent run of results showed what a driver of his calibre could achieve in a sub-par car.

“I think you just see a seven-time world champion in a car that’s maybe just not good enough for a world championship at the moment,” said Wolff. “He’s just pushing very hard and maximising what’s what’s in the car and faultless delivery.”

Wolff added his Russell, saying: “Clearly, both of them are out-performing the car at the moment.”

The two drivers have coped well with the often puzzling variations in the team’s competitiveness over the season so far, said Wolff.

“Both of them are actually very professional because you’re having a car that is more competitive on one weekend and then not competitive on the other weekend and we know that progression [isn’t constant],” said Wolff.

“It’s still very difficult to cope with that and this week again we see them being very calm and rational about it,” he continued. “And that really impresses me this season, that you don’t see these kind of emotional swings between good days and bad days.”

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....
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...

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38 comments on “Hamilton and Russell ‘out-performing a car that’s not good enough’ – Wolff”

  1. I was thinking, for a long time, that Mercedes’ engineering squad is the one able to respond successfully to any technical challenge. In 2017. we saw a regulation change that made them struggle initially. In 2022. they were knocked down by new technical regulations. Hence, I’m changing my opinion about them. They are an engineering squad of incremental gains. Every regulation change disrupted their R&D process.
    To divert to more technical observation I still don’t see any scientific justification to designing the car suspension with CoR ( Center of Roll ) of the front axle so much higher than the rear one. It might spare front tires a bit, but turning in characteristic would be very sluggish. However, trading tire management for performance doesn’t seem like a very good idea. Then, we come to ride height, which is extremely low with negative impact to kerbing characteristics. These are only few to mention and there is more. Covid situation gave them one more year to analyze all of this and apply much more thorough approach in designing W13. Very odd stuff to say at least…

    1. Hmm, in this era of F1 it’s fair to include tyre management as a key element of performance and who knows on the CoR. Maybe the drivers prefer predictable, if slow, turn-in at high speed which they’re good at this year?

      Also, with the odd front/rear CoR balance, do you think that could that help them with rear stability in traction zones?

    2. Yeah those 2014 regulations really hurt them..

    3. Their gains would be larger without the budget cap and wind tunnel restrictions.

  2. I hate that phrase ” a driver outperforming the car” there is no driver than can logically out perform a car. They drive it to the cars capabilities.

    1. Agreed although drivers can get more out of a car than a team expects or thinks possible which is kinda similar.

      1. the car its not a top 2 contender to be honest,

        dont have the speed to do so

    2. You cannot outperform physics, that’s correct. Though judging by the potential of the car, the W13 is theoretically capable of 5th and 6th finishes. Mercedes drivers have been lately finishing in higher positions than the car’s potential allows capitalizing on their rivals mistakes. That’s what “outperforming” is all about.

      1. Except they’re not outperforming then. They’re still driving 5th and 6th and are inheriting positions above their station due to others’ failures.

        Listen, I get what Toto’s job is, he’s supposed to be his drivers’ hype man as a manager. It builds their confidence, as well as helps the brand he’s selling, that’s fine. But they’re not really out-performing anyone. They’re in no-man’s land between the midfield and the two top teams. You could see how easily Max pulled and then calmly maintained a gap to Lewis, and we know Lewis in equal material is a direct match to Max, so I don’t think Lewis was outperforming the car.

        Perez needs to step up. Ferrari needs to step up, and when they do, Lewis and George are back in p5 and p6 praying for fortunate podiums.

        1. The term ‘out performing the car’ is directly related to its expected lap time and finishing position in relation to the simulator outcomes developed by other or them selves back at base.

          The whole world has written into ‘it’s the 5-6 best car’ we only guess that from results on the track.

          It is very possible now they have a half season of other cars performance that the simulation shows it as the 7-8 best car – we will never know.

          Out performing the car is when a driver gets a result or lap time considered impossible given the simulator results.

          Hamilton has put a few races and qualifying laps together in his time that far exceeded what the simulator and engineers thought possible.

          Not a hard concept to understand but one usually scorned with a tribal attitude or little knowledge of the background engineering that the expected performance is based on.

        2. Listen, I get what Toto’s job is, he’s supposed to be his drivers’ hype man as a manager.

          Funny from you to say that to a Five-Star general in the anti-Toto/Mercedes army :)

        3. Hamilton clearly outperformed car last race beat a redbull is mega. Perez had all weekend to get ontop of his pace. Ham also lost an hr of running. I also think he outperformed the car in Silverstone he had no right being in the mix imo. Sometimes you can underperform like Jeddah Imola.

          But Hamilton unlike Vettel has risen to the challenge of a young superstar. Alot were righting him off, when Vet was getting beaty by Lec he was done. Ham has fought back. I feel Ham vs Russel will be like Ham v Ros in 2014, which is fine if Rus is the real deal like many think. Rus is a tier above Lando imo and he gets alot of love and rightly so. Thats the diff with Ham and say Vettel. Ham use to do to Bottas in race pace what Max does too Perez he would not be fighting to the death to make a tiny difference to Lance Stroll.

        4. I said this in an earlier article.
          Ferrari overall are underperforming. Leclerc is really fast, but errors, bad decisions and reliability hurting both sides of the garage, they have the best Car, with RB second best and Merc 3rd best a fair distance back. Max is getting absolutely everything possible out of the RB. Lewis and George are consistent and taking every scrap available to keep them in the race. Sergio is pretty up and down not maximising what he has, I do not expect him to keep up with Max, but he should be beating the Merc’s. We should be seeing race after race where Ferrari and RB fill the top 4 places with Merc 5 and 6. So in my unqualified opinion overall:
          Merc are doing the best job with what they have, both drivers and both sides of the Garage maximising. But no driver is out performing the car, that’s just not possible.
          RB are doing the second best, but relying heavily on Max.
          Ferrari are messing up a season where they should at least win the Manufacturers title.

      2. They were only 3rd and 2nd because the best and second best teams dropped the ball.
        They have been very consistently capitalising on those errors, but they are not outperforming their cars.

    3. But at least they are giving it 110%.

      PS I wonder if Toto gives his drivers those ‘good effort’ stickers as well /s

      1. Hahahaha 110% i see what u did there..

  3. The problem is that they are trying to hit a moving target, the competition they are trying to catch up with is developing as well each race.

  4. Third best cars, drivers fifth and sixth in the championship, I’d say they are exactly where you expect them to be.
    If and when they finish above one of the top 2 teams drivers, it’s not because they are outperforming their material, but because strategy (Leclerc/Silverstone), driver errors (Leclerc/Imola & France, Perez/Austria, Sainz/Australia), reliability issues (Verstappen/Bahrain & Austria, Leclerc/Spain, Baku & Canada, Sainz/Baku, Austria & France, Perez/Bahrain & Canada) or simply bad luck (Verstappen/Silverstone, Sainz/Imola) makes it so that either or some of these drivers drop out of their usual positions of P1/2/3/4.

    Literally the only exception this season to the above and the only race where they could reasonably be judged to have placed above where they should have is France last weekend where both drivers finished in front of Perez.

    1. Also note that while “speed” is often the key metric of how good a car is perceived to be, “reliability” is an underrated metric in this same regard.

      The Mercedes has been bulletproof unlike the Ferrari and Red Bull. Of course this does not negate its clear performance deficit to both of those cars, but it does make it so that it is better than only the speed metric would suggest it to be, and it partially accounts for them being closer in the standings to Ferrari (and to a degree Red Bull) than they should be were it to be based on speed alone.

      1. See above..

        1. See below ;)

    2. Matt: “Third best cars, drivers fifth and sixth in the championship.”

      Isn’t that a type of self-fulfilling statement? You say that third in the constructors is unremarkable because they have the third best car. If I ask how you know it is the third best car, you will tell me it is because they are in third place in the constructors. This would mean that no matter what place a team was in the championship, you would say its position was unremarkable.

      1. There are various reasons why one could reasonably believe that to be true. The closest competitor teams are McLaren and Renault and their top drivers are of very high quality, yet cannot come close to the Mercedes drivers. They have about one third of the points. This says a lot.
        The teams further down even are a LOT further down. We know Bottas is no Hamilton, for example, but we know how he stacked up to Hamilton in the Mercedes and it was definitely better than 1/3rd worth of Lewis’s points.
        The reliability of the Mercedes then, is easily proven. It’s just fact.

        From all this it seems evident that the Mercedes is clearly the third best car.

        This discussion is a bit ironic though. The Red Bull cars were always described as rocketships despite Webber never finishing second in the championships. But Vettel was never described to be outperforming a car that wasn’t the best of the field.

  5. Just asking for a friend!
    He’s wondering if this season’s Mercede’s performance might be their best ever “sandbagging”?
    I mean, not as if Merc have ever been sandbag experts previously!

    1. @wildbiker I realise a joke might be going “whoosh” over me, but what exactly would they get out of that?

      1. It’s meant to be a joke, but historically he is not good at telling them so your confusion is warranted.

    2. You remind me of a Douglas Adams bit, where man proves God doesn’t exist, then goes on to prove black is white, and gets killed at the next zebra crossing.

      Skepticism is fine, but there reaches a point where you’re just reaching for paranoid straws in a desperate bid to seem relevant.

  6. Blah blah, they’ve got the 3rd best car and one of the most reliable – if the the most reliable – as well.
    Russell and Hamilton aren’t doing any better job than those who have to drive much worse cars.

    1. Except scoring more points, which is kind of the object of the championship(s).

  7. a car that’s maybe just not good enough for a world championship at the moment

    Struggling to understand the need for that ‘maybe’.
    I’ve been impressed by Russell driving this season and Hamilton’s in recent races (accepting his performance earlier was hampered often by more extreme setups). They’d both be serious contenders against Max in a better car. But there not where they shouldn’t be overall. That’s enough though. Russell is the real upgrade Mercedes needed. Looking forward to some races, this year or next, where they do have the best (or equal best) car and we can see the two drivers fight for wins.

    1. Forgetting the obvious ultimate lack of ultimate pace they need to improve their quali performance to start on the first or second row because because they are 0.8-1.2 seconds behind the RB but are more competitive in the actual race.
      One big improvement Merc has made since last year is the lighting starts, Lewis could’ve got up to 2nd from 4th at the start in France if the first corner was 200m further up the road, this is why quali is extra important to start near front rows because Like what Happened to HAM is Barcelona and RUS in Silverstone quali further down in the pack in a ‘faster’ car invites more problems .

      A final note is that they need to improve the slow pitstops because 3-4 second stops is costing them team positions on track when its bad enough that they are already at a deficit in performance.

      1. @ccpbioweapon Difficult to tell much still at this halfway point in the season. I expect (hope) Mercedes will compete for a win in one or two races still – and Max needs the competition from somewhere. But next year’s car is already looming and the teams need to know what the new regulation tweaks will be, I guess, to decide which direction to go with design – including big questions for Mercedes I imagine. You’re right about the quali-race offset for Mercedes.

  8. And a pit crew that loses them an average of 1 second per pit stop to their competitors.

  9. Maybe publicly piling on the (not the strength of phrase one would like to use, but you get the idea..) technical team responsible for this year’s car while ego-massaging of the two multimillionaires in the team should start to fade this far into the lost championships.You know, from a Team Principal point of view

    1. @uneedafinn2win Why? The reality is that the technical team is solely responsible for the car. Good or bad. What’s the point in ducking the reality? The drivers have delivered, the engineering team hasn’t.

  10. Apart from Max, the best drivers of the top 6.
    Leclerc dropped the ball badly this last race, Carlos had some rough weekends and Perez is slowly returning to last season’s (bad) form.

  11. Glad Ham is getting some respect its not easy to turn around the gap vs a young star look at Vettel. He should be 20 odd seconds up the road from a driver like Lance Stroll. Not having to try life and death all race to pass someone who made Sirotkin his equal, make Massa look like pre 09 Massa and make Perez look far quicker than he is. Russel made the gp2 field with Lando init his own infact like Lec and Piastri, Russel won both on his first attempt. Hamilton was really worrying me with his age. It just shows the diff in class imo in abilities. Ham going up against a mega 1 lap star and holding his own and had the edge in racepace with his exp. Were lucky to have George and Lando carrying the flag for next 10 plus yrs thats for sure.

  12. If we are looking at safety issues, it is also up to the teams to provide a safe vehicle for it’s drivers, as well as ensuring that they are fit to drive them. Maybe I am wrong with this, but there is a history of theatrics in Formula 1 and in recent times, it appears to feature in Mercedes Method of operation – Maybe it is to get the rating up on Netflix. After his COVID period, I can’t recall which event it was, Lewis was unable to get onto the podium without assistance as he was apparently suffering from Long COVID. If that was the case, he should have been deemed medically unfit to drive, or was it acting. With the porposing issues, his acting was also a highlight. If the car was that bad, they should not have been allowed to race it. At the French Grand Prix, Hamilton collapsed onto the floor stating that his drink bottle hadn’t worked. Once again, Mercedes providing an unsafe vehicle for it’s driver, or was it acting? No mention of this at all anywhere.
    It would appear that Mercedes are picking their issues to fight simply based on dragging their competitors back down to their current level.

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