Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the double retirement for the team at the Austrian Grand Prix is an example of how brutal motor racing can be.
Having locked out the front row in qualifying — with Valtteri Bottas on pole position — Mercedes was well placed with Lewis Hamilton leading Bottas in the early stages before the Finn retired with a loss of hydraulic pressure. After a strategic error left Hamilton fourth, he too had to stop with nine laps remaining.
Wolff says the failures are painful to take.
“I guess that was a major wake up call,” Wolff said. “For me the most painful day in my years at Mercedes, worse than Barcelona. I had plenty of people coming to see me before the race and saying it would be a walk in the park, one and two, you have the quickest car, and I said ‘let’s talk in two hours’ and this is exactly how motor racing can go. It can be very, very cruel and we had all the cruelty go against us today and it just got us brutally.”
While Barcelona saw Hamilton and then teammate Nico Rosberg collide in 2016, Mercedes has not had a double retirement due to reliability issues as a constructor since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix. Despite the problems coming just one week after the team introduced a power unit upgrade, Wolff says there is no link between the update and the failures.
“None of the issues today were to do with the reliability of the engine as far as I can see. We had a hydraulic leak that was linked to the steering on Valtteri and a drop in fuel pressure on Lewis’ car which was linked to the fuel system. This is the current understanding, so no regrets on introducing the engine.”
Asked what Mercedes has to do in order to recover for Hamilton’s home race in Britain next weekend, Wolff replied: “It is to jump on the plane and go to England and be in the factory at 8 a.m. and get everybody together and analyze what went wrong.
“We need to try not to do it again and how to best avoid it and then get our mind back to Silverstone and race as good as we can then.”