(L to R): Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes; Max Verstappen, Red Bull; George Russell, Mercedes; Hungaroring, 2022

Mercedes ‘not close enough to Ferrari and Red Bull to really fight them yet’ – Wolff

2022 F1 season

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Mercedes should not think their double podium at the Hungarian Grand Prix indicates the level they will compete after after the summer break, their team principal Toto Wolff has said.

Following their difficult start to the season, the team has taken podium finishes in the last six races. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished second and third respectively in the most races in France and Hungary.

Russell claimed the team’s first pole position of the season at the Hungaroring while Hamilton’s charging end to the the race yielded its fastest lap. However Wolff pointed out the team began the weekend in much worse shape before the conditions changed.

“[Hungary] was a difficult weekend overall because the suffering of Friday was just big, we didn’t really know which direction to look at. Maybe getting it so wrong on Friday was helpful in getting it very right, almost completely right, on Sunday.”

Teams’ performances varied dramatically over the weekend which began with hot temperatures before cooling. Wolff said Mercedes “need to be careful that it’s not specific to Budapest that we just landed in the perfect window.

“Also because the other teams, Ferrari especially, complained about the tyre not being where it should have been. So in my personal opinion, we are still lacking to the front-runners, you’ve seen that Leclerc on the right tyre is still a dominant force, but at least we are in the same race.”

Wolff concedes Hamilton’s DRS problem in qualifying scuppered his victory chances as it left him seventh on the grid. “But ‘would’ doesn’t count in this sport,” he added.

“I don’t want to say now suddenly we are right back into the game and we can win races because I don’t think that’s the case. I think we landed it well in Budapest on Saturday and we [reaped] the results.

“But I don’t think we are close enough to Ferrari and Red Bull to really fight them as of yet.”

Mercedes’ current form is exceeding their predictions from pre-season testing, but for a world championship-winning team there is only limited satisfaction in such results, says Wolff.

“I would have had rather more wins and less podiums. We are humble, but we are striving for race victories rather than second and thirds. But if they are on merit like today, then it’s a good step forward.”

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
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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23 comments on “Mercedes ‘not close enough to Ferrari and Red Bull to really fight them yet’ – Wolff”

  1. Maybe when the next season begins.
    BTW, ‘more wins & fewer podiums’ is an impossible equation as winning equals finishing in podium positions, so more in the process.

    1. Far from impossible and there are multiple permutations, however for example, one season could have 10 podiums no wins, the next could be 5 wins and no 2nd or 3rd placings (so five podiums). That’s more wins and fewer podiums.

      However I think the intent was for ‘podiums’ to refer to 2nd and 3rd placings versus the wins (1st placings)

    2. My goodness! This sort of comment shows how much the readership of this site has dropped in quality.

    3. @jerejj Wolff simply means he’d be happy to swap race wins for finishing P2 & P3. One win vs two podiums. So yes, it can make sense.

  2. Judging from previous remarks and the amount of truth these had in them, it seems they are back in the mix. Should make some interesting racing.

  3. petebaldwin (@)
    11th August 2022, 10:52

    If Leclerc/Ferrari or Verstappen/Red Bull get everything right and are on it, I think they’ve still got a little bit too much for Mercedes but they are more consistent and will capitalise on any flaws. They should be regularly beat Sainz and Perez now and will beat Leclerc and Max whenever they aren’t at 100%.

    Who knows what effect the mid-season rule change will have though – they could be the fastest now.

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      11th August 2022, 12:20

      Who knows what effect the mid-season rule change will have though – they could be the fastest now.

      That will send commentators into a tail spin, they will be apoplectic.

    2. All the retract-o-plank chat seems to have died down, doesn’t it! Certainly *if* RB and SF were running something they shouldn’t have been, then with all the extensions to the date the change in scrutineering tests have given them plenty of time to harvest data and re-model stuff to compensate, budget cap and CFD/wind-tunnel time restrictions notwithstanding, so I’m not expecting either of them to drop back much tbh.

      1. I am quite in agreement with you. One can also see that Mercedes closed the gap a bit, only we don’t have the full picture to certainly say the TD is responsible or not. So, I don’t expect a change in the standing or pecking order, come Spa GP… it’s still going to be Ferrari/Redbull and others follow

    3. @petebaldwin I’d certainly agree that Red Bull in the race is still faster than Mercedes (and Ferrari), but by significantly less – let’s not forget that Verstappen lapped Hamilton earlier this season. As for Ferrari vs Mercedes, I think that’s got very close (certainly at Hungaroring, but maybe less so at Spa?)

      While accepting that both championships are done and dusted, I await the second ‘half’ of the season with interest.

  4. Good, thank God.

  5. Yes well when Merc is 1 second faster than everyone else whilst still toning down the engine, they still claim to be the underdogs so really what is the value of anything Toto says at this point?

    1. Except in this situation his comments are actually honest!

      1. But how can you be sure?

    2. Hm.. do you think Mercedes is sandbagging this entire season?

  6. Perez’s recent performances, and Ferraris blunders have put them closer recently as much as the car getting better. I rate the Hamilton and Russell combination as the best one on the grid.

  7. If they keep their operations tight they might be able to beat Ferrari, who’s falling apart fast under pressure.

    Based on the car alone, this is as far as it goes.

    1. Yes, I’m confident on mercedes beating ferrari this year, they’ve been more reliable, have better drivers on average and more sound strategies.

      1. Agree.. I would be surprised if Mercedes don’t finish ahead of Ferrari in the WCC. Mercedes might not jump them in performance.. but Ferrari will throw away every opportunity and Mercedes will capitalise on every Ferrari mistake every weekend. There’s a massive gulf in racing pedigree between Red Bull / Mercedes and amateurs such as Ferrari.

  8. I think opportunities will come their way, even if they’re not quite as quick. Ferrari and Red Bull should start getting grid penalties for new engines and whatnot before Mercedes. A win for George would be a nice bonus, but would need a few things to come together like Sainz’s win, or Checo’s at Monaco.

    If Hamilton keeps up the mega starts he’s been doing, and qualifies on row one or two, he’ll be able to control race from the front. Hopefully Toto, Bono and the rest can deal with aggressive undercuts and other disruptive tactics, and handle Red Bull’s killer instinct better than Ferrari do.

    1. @bullfrog

      Hopefully Toto, Bono and the rest can deal with aggressive undercuts and other disruptive tactics, and handle Red Bull’s killer instinct better than Ferrari do.

      They’ll definitely capitalise on any mistakes or poor quali performances of the Red Bull drivers. If they can find a little straight line speed, I think they could hold Max or Perez off for a win as well.

      Got to hand it to Mercedes, they can seize race winning opportunities with as much efficiency as Ferrari can seize race losing opportunities.

  9. I suspect they are winning races in the second half of the season. I would bet each Merc driver wins a race by the end of the season. I don’t think Lewis is going to make up the points deficit to Russell though.

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