Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2023

US GP was Mercedes’ best race of 2023 despite disqualification – Wolff

Formula 1

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Mercedes’ team principal Toto Wolff says the United States Grand Prix was their best round in 2023, despite Lewis Hamilton’s disqualification from the race.

Hamilton lost second place due to excessive wear on his car’s plank. His team mate George Russell was therefore the team’s only finisher in the grand prix, taking fifth place.

Wolff admitted it “might sound strange” to pick the United States Grand Prix as their best event “because we got disqualified.” However he said the team drew genuine encouragement from how well their car performed after they introduced a new floor for it that weekend.

“We brought an upgrade package that worked, the car was performing well and we were hunting down the leader,” he said in a video published by the team. “You could say, ‘well, you were disqualified for a car that was too low’, but the genuine performance was there and that was an enjoyable weekend.

“I’ve always said that I’d rather have a fast car that we haven’t tuned in the right way. Obviously you need to finish, but that was the best weekend overall, seeing that the correlation between the wind tunnel and the track was good.”

Hamilton finished second in the sprint race that weekend – a result he kept – while Russell was eighth. The team took three other second places in grands prix but went without a win for the first time since 2011.

“It’s difficult because there have been so many moments where we had high expectations and it didn’t pan out as we’d expected,” Wolff said.

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He identified the return to Interlagos, the scene of the team’s sole win of the previous season, as one of their most disappointed events.

“Brazil was difficult because that was such a good race for us in 2022,” he said. “We dominated the whole weekend last year, the sprint race and the main race, and then in 2023 the opposite was the case. So that was a bad moment.”

Despite failing to win a race, the team moved up one place to second in the constructors’ championship compared to last year.

“A good moment was Sunday night in Abu Dhabi,” said Wolff. “I never paid lots of attention to P2 and P3; we of course want to come P1. But then finishing P2 was emotionally and morally important for the team. That was a good moment.”

He acknowledged that slipping to third place in the constructors’ championship would have given them the benefit of more aerodynamic development time under F1’s handicapping rules, but said the higher position offered other benefits.

“From a mindset perspective, if you would have asked me at the beginning of the season, I would have said it’s not very relevant whether we finish P2 or P3,” Wolff admitted. “The sporting advantage is that you have more wind tunnel time for next year.

“But then there is a financial component for all our staff in terms of bonus. I need to look after everyone together with my senior management. Therefore, it is a very important component, even though maybe from the sporting side, it is not so relevant.

“Having finished second in the world championship that evening, it felt great. I wasn’t expecting to have that feeling. You could see a boost of morale and emotion that was going through the team and that was important.”

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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...

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23 comments on “US GP was Mercedes’ best race of 2023 despite disqualification – Wolff”

  1. The word ‘despite’ doing a lot of heavy lifting there – other teams could also have extracted more performance from their cars if they’d run them illegally low.

    1. other teams could also have extracted more performance from their cars if they’d run them illegally low.

      Maybe they did. Everyone round here went through this at the time.
      When you consider that it’s unlikely that Sainz’s car was set up differently than Leclerc’s, but they didn’t test Sainz so we will never know whether he should, in a blanket test world, have that listed 3rd place or a DQ.

      How many other cars were showing excessive wear that the teams know about, but were untested by the FIA?
      We will never know, and even if a Ferrari employee came out with comments about Sainz’s car, pro or con, it could never be proven.

    2. half of the field that was checked was illegal.

      1. And half of them weren’t illegal….

      2. ILoveConspiracyTheories
        20th December 2023, 10:38

        That means that the other half wasn’t ;-)

  2. Makes no difference, the car was illegal and thus disqualified.

    Any gains etc are voided because clearly the car was running too low.

    1. Except Toto knows exactly how low the car was running and therefore how valid the performance was. So, if he was happy with the the pace it couldn’t have been that far legal height.

      1. (Edit) …. it couldn’t have been that far off legal height.

      2. See my comment.

        Toto is the best politician on the grid.

      3. So, if he was happy with the the pace it couldn’t have been that far legal height.

        Or he could simply be spouting meaningless words.

        1. Who’s more likely to be spouting meaningless BS? A team principal with a history of being blunt, or a random poster on the internet?

          In the past, I’ve asked for examples of times that Toto Wolff has been documented to have lied– the number of examples provided by the internet has been very, very small.

    2. as were 50 % of all checked cars

  3. It’s so vital for next year that they’ve got correlation. Now I’m waiting to hear about the gearbox, then we can hope 🙏

  4. Its not uncommon the fastest car on track is illegal…
    Brazil 2021.. usa 2023…

    1. I presume after the quali DQ the car was fixed to be legal in brazil 2021, no? Yet somehow it was still flying, hamilton in a sprint, which is only 24 laps long, recovered from last to 5th and then from 10th to 1st in the race, passing everyone like they were in a different formula and only verstappen being a challenge, so looks like performance was there both when the car was legal and when it wasn’t.

    2. Brazil 2021

      Wrongly fitted component, which instead of stopping flexing on one side (only) of the wing actually caused a performance hindering problem.
      Like Vegas 2023 “rules are rules” and the item that didn’t comply caused a penalty.

      Apparently regular replacement of wings that flexed so much they kept breaking was allowed – did anyone count the number of in weekend replacements RBR did? Just curious what the final tally was.

  5. Well yes, you ran an illegal car by a significant margin. As with anything Mercedes yet another detail the media chose to ignore. Hamilton’s car had a total wear of 3 millimeters and Leclerc’s a total of 1.3 millimeters. The tolerance is 1 millimeter. This was reported by Auto Motor und Sport for those who need a source.

    Of course no one spoke about this and Mercedes after looking at these numbers sure as hell “cheated” as far as I am concerned.

    One can obviously let teams go if they had wear like Leclerc did but no, they deliberately ran the car far lower if you need to incur a wear that’s thrice the tolerance. 200% extra to explain to some is spending 400 million when the budget cap is 133 million.

    1. There is a difference between acting in an intentionally unfair manner and gaining an advantage, and gaining an advantage through acts that were unintentional. The former is cheating, the latter is bad luck.

      Sure, it is possible they knew they were too low, but there is no way in hell we will ever know that, but I struggle to believe they merely ‘hoped’ the plank would not be inspected.

      1. ILoveConspiracyTheories
        20th December 2023, 10:47

        Then we can settle the BC breach of RBR as bad luck. No one of us here can tell or know if RBR did it on purpose or that it was unintentional but I struggle to believe they merely ‘hoped’ there budget would not be inspected. ;-)

      2. The former is cheating, the latter is bad luck.

        It’s not bad luck at all. It was a conscious decision to take excessive risk.

  6. Lol this is a price winner for the most useless comment by a teamboss ever. ” If my grandmother had wheels she would have been a bike ” …

    ” If anyone would have used active suspension, that would have been THEIR best result, if it wasnt for their DQ “

  7. Indeed, that is consistently in line with the way he thinks / his antics

  8. lolz, it was their best race because they were running Hamilton’s floor really low, and punished Ferrari to keep the points. Jokes from Wolfe`. Of course if Lewis’ car was just as fast as Max down the straight, he might have actually had a chance at winning the race. Maybe Mercedes should come up with their own ‘engine breaking map’ for keeping the rear end as close to the ground as possible.

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