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Wolff: Inexcusable performance

Wolff: Inexcusable performance by mercedes at sao paulo gp hamilton russell hamilton russell sao paulo gp f1

Toto Wolff did not mince his words after a dismal showing by Mercedes at the 2023 Sao Paulo Grand Prix on Sunday, lambasting his team’s performance, after a race in which their drivers spent the afternoon at Interlagos going backwards.

It was a miserable weekend for the once-serial Formula 1 World Champions, despite starting from the third row, after the rain-impacted Friday qualifying, in the race they were in freefall from the moment the first start happened.

After the restart, it was cruel to watch as George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were simply gobbled up all afternoon. The latter ended the day P8, while his teammate tumbled out of the points and retired the car shortly thereafter.

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Adding insult to injury for Mercedes is the fact that their pace, on Sunday, was way down on their customer teams, McLaren and Aston Martin, while both Black Arrows drivers can’t wait to rid themselves of the woeful W14. More so in the wake of their worst showing of this campaign.

After the race at Interlagos, Wolff fumed to Sky F1 reporters: “Inexcusable performance. There are no words for that. That car finished second last week and the week before, and whatever we did to it was horrible. Lewis survived out there, but George, I can only feel for the two driving such a miserable thing.

“It shows how difficult the car is, it’s on a knife’s edge. You’ve got to develop that better for next year, because it can’t be that within seven days you’re finishing on the podium, solid, with one of the two quickest cars, and then you’re nowhere and finishing eighth,” lamented Wolff, whose cars finished one-two in last year’s at the venue.

Toto: A very poor performance

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Later in the team report, the Mercedes boss toned it down with corporate-speak: “Today was clearly a very poor performance. This car finished on the podium last week in Mexico so whatever we did to it here did not work. We are not usually at our strongest on sprint weekends, but that doesn’t explain how challenging this weekend was.

“Lewis survived out there to take P8 whilst George was forced to retire. I can only feel for them having to drive something so difficult today. The car is clearly on a knife-edge the whole time.

“We need to ensure we develop that out of the car for next year. We also need to push hard for the final two races of the season and recover. That is the most important thing now heading to two very different tracks in Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi,” concluded Wolff.

Although a runner-up battle is hardly exciting, it does have significance in terms of prize money and, of course, pride that can translate to motivation for 2024. However, for now, the 2023 F1 World Championship stats after the Sao Paulo do not make for good reading for Mercedes.

Hamilton scored a total of eight points in the Sprint and GP combined this weekend, while his WDC rival Sergio Perez banked 18. That puts the score at 258 for the Mexican to the Briton’s tally of 226.

Mercedes’ second place in the WCC took less of a blow, nevertheless, they were outscored by two points by third-placed Ferrari, the score is now 382-362 in favour of the German team. Two more races remain in this season.