Toto Wolff, the team principal for Mercedes, has revealed in the open for the first time how difficult it has been for the team to lose handily to Red Bull and Ferrari this year.
Wolff alluded to their dire circumstances as a «dungeon» that was becoming harder to cope with than anything the team had previously encountered after another trying weekend at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen took the checkered flag for Red Bull at Spa-Francorchamps after making a strong move through the field from 14th on the starting grid to a win that highlighted both his talent and the exceptional car he has this season. A second championship is within his grasp after 14 races and eight more to go, but Mercedes, in stark contrast, were once again left in the dust by a vehicle whose performance from week to week continues to baffle them.
Lewis Hamilton, a seven-time champion who has won six championships with Mercedes, who have won eight straight constructors’ titles since 2014, was nearly two seconds slower than Verstappen in qualifying in Belgium. He made it clear that he was eager to switch to next year’s model. Wolff acknowledged that being reduced to an also-ran was difficult to handle.
He remarked, «I can tell you it is fucking difficult. They say you never lose you learn. «All these lovely Instagram photos and everything we have discussed regarding how we are going to handle this when you enter the dungeon over the past eight years. to uphold your values and principles, to remain positive, and to steadfastly pursue improvement? Phew. This year offers more material for a book than the previous eight combined.
When Hamilton collided with Fernando Alonso at Les Combes while attempting to pass him on the opening lap, the race was over. However, Wolff and the team were baffled by the true problem that Mercedes was suffering.
Wolff stated, «It’s really hard to deal with these swings. «We had a completely poor performance in qualifying, but sometimes we go three seconds per lap faster in the race. There are many unanswered questions regarding what is happening. With the structure and expertise needed to comprehend a racing automobile, we are not where we should be with this one.
Although their aspirations have been dashed this season, the team has not yet made a definitive decision on what path to go for their next model, as Hamilton stated after qualifying that he could not wait for next year’s car.
Clearly, our data does not provide us with the outcomes and does not correlate it with reality, so anything we determine for next year needs to be thoroughly assessed, he said. «Our performance fluctuates greatly, and we are unable to control it. How do you know right now that modifying an idea drastically for next year is the best course of action when you would obviously have to start from scratch?
With Hamilton’s streak of winning a race each year he has competed in Formula One on the line, Wolff said the team will decide on the car for next season in the coming weeks. He also claimed the team felt they could still do better this season.
Our goal is to compete on race courses that will accommodate our vehicle, he stated. «But it’s also obvious that we should put a lot of attention on the upcoming year. Finishing second or third doesn’t matter to me because we are among the top three teams in the standings.