Red Bull got the better of Mercedes fair and square at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix according to Toto Wolff, despite concerns over his team’s power unit performance.
Max Verstappen took pole position and won Sunday’s race with ease, pulling away to beat Valtteri Bottas by 15 seconds while Lewis Hamilton finished third. Hamilton said he felt “destroyed” after racing while recovering from COVID-19, and with Mercedes dealing with MGU-K concerns it’s unclear what the team’s true potential could have been had the operation been at full strength. Wolff, however, insisted that Red Bull simply had the quickest package.
“You can see that everybody has weaknesses, and we weren’t on our A game this weekend,” Wolff said. “That’s simply a fact, and 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.
“Of course, (Hamilton) wasn’t 100%, and that’s always negative, but Red Bull, both cars were simply quicker than us this whole weekend. We never quite got it right.”
Hamilton asked if Bottas was struggling at one stage as he consistently sat within four seconds of his teammate and eventually crossed the line a little over two seconds adrift, but Wolff said there was never a thought of switching the drivers to see if Verstappen could be caught.
“1000% no to ever swapping the cars in that condition,” he said. “It was painful enough that we did it a few years ago, and I will always want to avoid that, unless it’s championship-critical.
“Valtteri did a very good job. I think him and Lewis were looking after the tires a lot because it was not clear the hard would last until the end, and there was more pace in both of them. And you can see at the end, we saw through sector one, that our car wasn’t simply turning around (turns) five and six, and the last sector wasn’t great. But no, I never thought about that.”