Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says he has highlighted a number of deficits that his team can improve upon after being beaten by Ferrari in the Belgian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton took pole position in wet conditions on Saturday, but was overtaken by Sebastian Vettel on the first lap and did not have the pace to match the German in the dry. After the race Hamilton referenced “a few trick things” on the Ferrari that contributed to the gap in performance, but insisted he wasn’t suggesting anything was illegal, and Wolff says the race showed Mercedes areas it can make gains compared to its title rival.
“I think after days like this, you need to question yourself where we can improve, where you can improve yourself,” Wolff said. “When I look at the race, I see many deficits. We’re a strong team, but there are deficits which are obvious, which cause us not to perform as we expect. It’s not about someone else outperforming us, it’s about us finding the clues to understand our underperformance.
“The deficits… you can see the deficits, it’s the slow speed, and it’s the traction. This is what I would summarize as the main weaknesses of the moment. Then today, we were clearly… compared to Ferraris and Red Bulls and Force Indias, the car that was cooking the tires the most.”
Wolff says the performance of Ferrari’s power unit should not be overlooked, but believes Mercedes’ own struggles accentuated the difference between the two teams at Spa.
“They have a power advantage,” he said. “We have seen that in qualifying, that power advantage is at various parts of the straights. You can see even at the exits, are not worse than ours. The engine keeps pulling. Having said that, there’s nothing that could be a trick, it might also be related to how you run the engine. How you calibrate it, the same way they de-rated it earlier in qualifying than we did.
“We can see they have a slight power advantage and then you add that to our weaknesses out of Turn 1, especially, and that causes the double-whammy. If you’re not very good at traction and you’re being outperformed slightly on power, that lap one happens.”