Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits his team weren’t at their best at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but maintains race winners Red Bull were simply better.
Coming into the weekend having won 13 of 16 races in the 2020 Formula 1 season, the Black Arrows were heavy favourites to add to their tally at Yas Marina, but were instead bested by Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who finished 15.976 seconds clear of second-placed Valtteri Bottas, with Lewis Hamilton third, a further 2.439s back.
“You can see that everybody has weaknesses, and we weren’t on our A-game this weekend,” Wolff told reporters afterwards.”That’s simply a fact.
“Red Bull won fair and square. You can see that Albon also had a very good race, so they have a very good race car, and shows that when their car is in the right place, both drivers do a really good job.
“Probably Albon’s pace was quicker than us by the end. They could have been well ahead, and even worse for us.
“We’re leaving this race with a slap on the wrist. It wasn’t a great weekend for us. It was a car that has never let us down all year, maybe apart from this last weekend.”
According to Wolff, the reason for his team’s difficulties was largely due to the early switch to hard tyres precipitated by the safety car, with both drivers subsequently forced to manage their pace.
“Valtteri and Lewis were looking after the tyres a lot, because it was not clear the hard would last until the end, and there was more pace in both of them,” he explained.
“You can see at the end, we saw through sector one, that our car wasn’t simply turning around five and six, and the last sector wasn’t great.
“We just simply had an understeery car all day today. We had a car that is good on Friday, but not good on Saturday. We tried both directions, weakened the rear, none of that helped.