Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2023

Hamilton’s floor explanation ‘not main reason’ for Mercedes’ Brazil slump – Wolff

Formula 1

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Lewis Hamilton suspects an error with the set-up of Mercedes’ recently introduced new floor design was behind their sharp downturn in performance at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

But team principal Toto Wolff believes that is only part of the explanation for a dismal weekend in which Hamilton finished a lowly eighth in the grand prix itself.

Mercedes introduced their new floor two weeks earlier at the United States Grand Prix. The team performed well at Circuit of the Americas and Hamilton finished two seconds behind race winner Max Verstappen.

However his car failed a post-race inspection of its plank and was disqualified from the grand prix. Mercedes admitted they hadn’t got their set-up right during the sprint race weekend’s single hour-long practice session. A week later in Mexico, where they had the benefit of three practice sessions, Hamilton finished second again.

But after their poor performance in Brazil, another sprint event, Hamilton suspected they may have got it wrong again with their floor.

“My guess is that the floor is not working and the floor’s not settling down so that just pushed us to go to a higher wing [angle at the rear],” he said. “I feel we’re just massively draggy on the straights and we’re losing so much time on the straights, there’s nothing I can do about it.

“Then we’re just sliding through the corners. So we have to look into why that is the case on this rough circuit.”

He believes the W14’s set-up explains why he ended up over a minute behind Verstappen at Interlagos. “I am sure there is something within the set-up that we might have been able to have done a bit better. But whether or not that meant we were further up, I can’t say.”

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Wolff acknowledged the team made some compromises with how it ran its floor, but believes there were other factors at work.

“We ran the car way too high and it’s something that you know that you carry that on [from first practice],” he said. “But that wasn’t the main reason for an absolute off weekend in terms of performance.

“There’s something fundamentally wrong mechanically. Or, rather, it’s not a rear wing and it’s not the car being slightly, slightly too high – because we’re talking a millimetre, two, that is performance but it’s not the explanation for a total off [weekend].”

He said the change in the car’s performance between consecutive race weekends was “baffling”.

“From a really quick car, best balanced or really well-balanced. Our drivers happy to a nightmare. How’s that even possible?

“What is it that’s not right? I wouldn’t be surprised that we analyse the cars in the next few days and we find out that there was a mechanical issue in the way we set them up although I don’t know what that could have been.”

Mercedes were so far off the pace in Brazil they even considered starting their cars from the pit lane in order to adjust their set-ups. But Wolff said they weren’t sure they would improve their car’s performance enough to justify giving up their grid positions for the grand prix.

“We didn’t know fundamentally where we would have changed it because there is a much bigger issue,” he said. “We thought about that but when thinking about maximising points, it was probably right to start like this.”

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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...

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5 comments on “Hamilton’s floor explanation ‘not main reason’ for Mercedes’ Brazil slump – Wolff”

  1. It’s interesting that both Ferrari and Mercedes have now repeatedly stated that they don’t always understand their cars. That must make it hard to decide which changes to make, or which new direction to choose for their next designs. No doubt all cars have some quirks that emerge when they’re put on track for the first time, but when there’s a big disconnect between expectations and outcome it also sows seeds of doubt within the organisation, which is never a good thing.

    That said, it’s somewhat amusing that an 8th place is considered a ‘dismal weekend’ when over half the grid does worse.

    1. They don’t understand their cars because they refuse to believe reality. Their simulations are wrong but they can’t face that fact. Going to be a long wait for someone on either team to go against the organization and fix these cars.

  2. Well, I’d say Checo is pretty safe now. RBR are very close to the 1-2 WDC plus the WCC

  3. they’re actually saying pretty much the same thing aren’t they. Neither of them is an engineer and neither of them understands it, but they’re both mentioning ride height. Toto talking super vaguely about ‘something mechanical’, but too cross at the time to even to be consistent about how much they raised it! We need to hear from James Allison. But a week ago he was talking about good correlation, so hopefully he does understand it, even if he can’t fix it this year. Afaik Mike Elliott did this concept running really really close to the ground, in the wind tunnel, and so if it’s all fallen apart when they have to raise it that makes the most sense.

    1. No Mikey no, that is so not right!’

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