Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff has admitted that he’s less concerned by driver George Russell’s radio complaints than the team’s lack of pace at the Brazilian Grand Prix. The Silver Arrows had their worst race result in Brazil in 13 years as seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton passed the chequered flag in eighth and No. 2 driver Russell in 15th after retiring the car.
During the race, Russell could be heard on the team radio complaining, especially when he found himself closely following his teammate, Hamilton. Wolff, however, says he’s more concerned about the car’s performance, with the team’s last win coming in Brazil in 2022 as Russell topped an F1 podium for the first time.
“I think the race [management] and the messages for us today are completely irrelevant,” he said. “There was nothing to manage or nothing to say, it’s a complete sideshow. I think the fundamental issue is that the car was slow. So I’ve no problem with things being broadcasted or not because whether it’s controversial or not, fundamentally if there’s no performance like that and it’s off then who cares?”
Russell branded Mercedes’ time in Sau Paulo as a “really strange weekend”, with the Brit having no answer to the car’s lack of performance. The dropoff in South America came following a string of impressive results that saw Hamilton fight for podiums.
“We had a cooling problem that we couldn’t get under control for the last 20 laps,” explained Russell. “It had no influence on our lack of performance. Really strange weekend, probably by far the slowest weekend of our year. So, we need to understand why because we had high expectations coming into this weekend.”
Wolff and Mercedes are two races out from the 2023 campaign being concluded and this season will be seen as a massive failure considering the hype surrounding a potential comeback into competition with rivals Red Bull and Max Verstappen. Second in the constructors’ championship, however, is within reach but Ferrari is not too far behind.
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“One thing is the car is really unpredictable in the sense of one weekend it feels good, one session it feels good and then not,” Hamilton said. “I’m sure we will go and look at things and find out if we should have done things differently, but with the one practice session, it’s difficult. But I’m still proud of the team.
“They still came here and did their work, they hold their head up high and that’s what we have to be able to continue to do, just keep pushing forwards. Two more races with this thing and then hopefully no more driving it!”
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