Toto Wolff says there is “pressure in the system” at Mercedes but the team is not divided as he clarified a heated exchange with Lewis Hamilton at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Mercedes failed to get a car through to Q3 on Friday and Hamilton and Wolff were seen engaged in a tense discussion in the garage after the elimination, with the driver not elaborating on the situation afterwards. Following a tough Sprint that saw both cars finish outside the top ten, Wolff explained both sides were feeling the same frustrations.
“It’s quite funny how it is being interpreted,” Wolff said. “Lewis and I shared frustration that we weren’t really able to extract lap one performance and how annoying it was. But it was the same point of view and sheer anger. No, there is no division or blaming or anything like that.
“There is pressure in the system, but I would say the necessary pressure to get things right. Nobody in the team is anywhere near enjoying the ride at the moment and this team, we have done it in the past, we just need to dig ourselves out of this hole.”
George Russell gained one position on Saturday and will start 11th but Hamilton dropped to 14th, and Wolff says the Sprint showed a lack of performance advantage even if the car is capable of more.
“I think what we saw today is that we haven’t got a car with enough performance differential to some of the midfield cars to overtake them. If we were running in free air then the picture would not be any different to the previous races, but there is just not a big enough gap to overtake cars and the car is not good enough to overtake cars that are within 0.4s or 0.5s in lap time performance.
“Point scoring has to be the minimum [on Sunday], but that is not where we set our expectations so and therefore this weekend is a complete write off. So you can say we are trying to learn, but we weren’t great with tire warm up and that is why there was no miracles that you can expect at the race start and because the overtaking is so difficult – we can make up positions, we have shown that today – but not quickly enough. Therefore, beyond the fact we are learning it is another humbling experience.”
Hamilton himself says Mercedes is out of the championship picture given the tough start it has endured, with Ferrari and Red Bull significantly faster.
“We are faced with this issue and there is nothing I can do,” Hamilton said. “All I can do is to try to do the best job I can and some weekends it goes well and some weekends it doesn’t, but we’re obviously not fighting for the championship, we’re fighting to get into the top ten at the moment.”