Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has joined driver Lewis Hamilton in admitting that today’s race will be one to forget for the team.
The Silver Arrows’ difficulties began not long after the Grand Prix weekend got under way in Italy on Friday. After a practice session which was nothing to write home about, qualifying was a disaster with both cars outside the top 10.
Saturday’s sprint race offered an opportunity for Hamilton and George Russell to improve their starting position for the main event, but they couldn’t manage it. Instead, Russell remained in 11th while Hamilton even slipped a further place back and will start the race 14th on the grid.
Wolff admitted that this weekend is a new “low” for the team this year, even after three other difficult races with Mercedes struggling for pace and stability. “I think points scoring needs to be the minimum but this is not where we set our expectations and therefore this weekend is a complete write-off,” he said.
“You can say that we are trying to learn but we weren’t great with tyre warm-up and that is why there is not a lot that we can really [do]. There is no miracle that you can expect at the race start.
“And because the overtaking is so difficult – we can make up positions, we showed it on Saturday – but not quickly enough and therefore beyond the fact that we are learning, it is another humbling experience.”
That negative but realistic assessment off the situation echoes what Hamilton had said after climbing out of his car at the end of a sprint race to forget. It wasn’t just hopes of a win in Emilia Romagna he dismissed, but also any chance he has of battling for an unprecedented eighth world title in 2022.
XPB Images/PA Images)
“We stick together, we try to motivate everyone,” he said. “This is the situation that we’re faced with but, everyone’s got their head down, everyone’s working as hard as they can. We’re obviously not fighting for this championship but, we’re fighting to understand the car and improve and progress through the year. That’s all we can hope for right now.”
Russell was perhaps a little more optimistic, choosing to speak instead about the possibilities for the Grand Prix this weekend. “It is tricky in these sprint races. It felt processional from where we were. We have work to do,” the young Briton admitted.
“Strategy will be key tomorrow and we will have to do something different from others and give us the opportunity to fight and move up the grid. It has been a difficult weekend for us.”