Toto Wolff believes that with Lewis Hamilton losing the Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship to Max Verstappen, the 2021 season was not a success story.
This claim by Wolff expresses the mentality of the team that just won a record eighth F1 Constructors’ Title, after utterly dominating the turbo-hybrid era of the sport that began back in 2014, with Verstappen’s title triumph in 2021 the only tarnish on the Brackley-based team’s impressive success streak.
Asked by Auto Motor und Sport if he considers the 2021 season a success, Wolff said: “If you lose, it’s not a success story.
“The positive thing about that was the performance, how we managed to come back. After the disqualification in Brazil, I would have said that the drivers’ championship was lost. Nevertheless, we started with the same points in Abu Dhabi.”
Mercedes started the season on the back foot, with new floor regulations tapering off the floor ahead of the rear tyres hurting the team’s performance, something Wolff admitted they underestimated.
“We thought we could cope with the cut in the rear floor in front of the rear tyres,” he said. “With the lead we had in 2020, we thought we could compensate for that. We saw it as a kind of challenge.
“That was a misjudgment. During the tests, we noticed how much behind we got. I guess that cost us a second,” Wolff admitted.
Power unit issues did not cost Hamilton the Championship
Mercedes had to deal with engine problems over the course of the 2021 season, which was a surprise for the team who set the benchmark in terms of power unit performance and reliability, but Wolff is adamant that is not what cost Hamilton the Championship.
“We didn’t lose the world championship because of the engine, but it’s true that we experienced problems for the first time in eight years,” the Austrian pointed out.
“At first, it only affected one component from a bad production run. This developed into a plague in which the engines lost more power over the runtime than they used to,” the Mercedes boss explained.
With Red Bull pushing on with car development till the later stages of the 2021 F1 season, Mercedes were adamant that they didn’t do the same and that their W12’s great pace came from better car understanding especially after the US and Brazilian races.
“We understood our car better,” Wolff said. “Our set-up was better and we had less tire wear. This was also reflected in the race results.
Wolff also revealed in the interview that the team opted against using any of the allowed tokens for reasons related to the cost cap and said: “We didn’t take a token.
“We wanted to build a new nose, but then, as part of the cost cap, we put our resources elsewhere,” the 50-year-old lamented.
Mercedes announced that they will reveal their 2022 F1 car, the W13 built under the new aero regulations, on February 18.
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