Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits that his team’s current position is “unacceptable”, while stressing that the W13 Mercedes Formula 1 car is impossible to set up. So bad was Hamilton’s qualifying it is unlikely he will make the grid for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
In Saturday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix F1 qualifying, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton failed to improve on his 16th fastest time in Q1 in what he described as a “totally undrivable” W13. The British driver explained that his poor performance was largely due to poor steering in terms of set-up, which made his car very nervous from the rear, in stark contrast to his young teammate George Russell.
“I like the competition” says team boss Toto Wolff,
“We’ve had a very good run of eight years at the front of the field – not always – but we’ve kind of managed to take the lead. But this time it’s a bit like 2013 where we just weren’t up to the standard of the Red Bulls and probably the Ferraris as well,” said Toto Wolff on Saturday in Jeddah after the qualifying session.
“But we kept fighting, and that’s how I feel right now, we have to keep fighting. It’s certainly completely unacceptable to be where we are in terms of performance, because we are third on the track [last time out in Bahrain], and sometimes – like today – it’s not an option to stay where we are. Nevertheless, the optimal scenario for us today was no man’s land between Red Bull and Alpine, and that is certainly not acceptable.”
Hamilton chooses an undrivable setup
The Austrian also revealed that Lewis Hamilton’s poor qualifying performance on Saturday (he qualified in P16) was the result of a “slightly too bold” set-up change on the British driver’s W13 chosen by Lewis.
“What you can see is that between Lewis’ and George’s performances there weren’t huge set-up changes that took place. But they were big enough to have dramatic consequences on the performance of the car, between going out in Q1 and making it strong to go into Q3.”
“That’s why this car is really difficult to set up, we had a low drag rear wing, but it’s still not enough to reduce the drag of the car, but in general I would say that’s not the only problem. We have a lot of parts of the car that don’t work, that we don’t understand, they don’t perform well enough, and that’s not where the car needs to be.”
The Mercedes team is expected to decide to totally change the set-up of Lewis Hamilton’s car for Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which would mean the British driver could start from the pit lane due to breaking of parc ferme rules.