Toto Wolff’s blunt criticism of Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff did not mince his words when reflecting on the Hungarian Grand Prix, the eleventh race of the 2023 Formula 1 season. Despite George Russell’s impressive driving, Wolff was far from satisfied with Lewis Hamilton’s fourth-place finish.

In an interview with “Sky,” Wolff expressed his disappointment, stating, “The only thing that was good today was George’s driving. We have to look at everything else.” The team boss was particularly critical of Hamilton’s performance, remarking, “I think we lost a podium.”



Disaster start for Hamilton

Hamilton had started the race from pole position but lost the lead to Max Verstappen in the Red Bull before turn 1. Within just two corners of the first lap, Hamilton dropped to fourth place, a position from which he struggled to recover throughout the race.

Former Formula 1 winner Ralf Schumacher provided some perspective, explaining, “Such a starting procedure can go wrong. You orientate yourself backwards and then everything is already too late, and you are only a passenger and can no longer do anything.”

Wolff acknowledged that the first lap cost them a better result, and he lamented that Hamilton’s qualifying performance the previous day could have secured them two podium finishes.

Mercedes must “look at it,” says Wolff, after all, the first lap cost a better result. What’s more: “With yesterday’s qualifying, [we] [lost] maybe two podiums,” said the Mercedes team boss

However, he praised the team’s strategic tyre tactics, which gave Hamilton opportunities to attack later in the race.

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Wolff critical of Hamilton

While Wolff admits that Mercedes had the second fastest car, with only Verstappen being faster, he believes they failed to fully utilize its potential.

Wolff says: “He can’t blame the Mercedes strategists for the race performance“. Still, he doesn’t seem happy when he says: “I think we had the second fastest car. In fact, only Max [Verstappen] was faster. But we just didn’t use the potential.”

Shock comments from the Austrian who would never normally throw his ‘star driver’ under the bus publically.


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He expressed his hope for a late safety car phase, which could have improved Hamilton’s race, but it never materialized.

“You’re hoping for a safety car and of course you’re also creating a tire offset at the end where you can go a lot faster,” he explains. But that doesn’t change the fact that Mercedes “simply lost too much in the first few laps” with Hamilton.


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Despite the disappointing result, Wolff emphasized that Mercedes’ pace against the rest of the field is still commendable, and they hold the second position in the world championship standings. However, he acknowledged the significant gap to Verstappen and stressed the need to aim for the top position rather than settling for second best.

“The result doesn’t show it at all, but the pace in the car against the rest of the world is okay.” said Wolff,

“We have expanded that and are also second in the world championship, we have also made a leap forward in the drivers’ standings with both drivers. But the gap to Verstappen is of course gigantic. There is no point in going for second best if the first is just so far away.”

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7 responses to “Toto Wolff’s blunt criticism of Lewis Hamilton

  1. I don’t know what world Wolff lives in, but the gap with Max was over 30 seconds to the number 2, and even more or LH. The Mercedes car is just far from fast enough, had nothing to do with LH. It’s about time he acknowledges that Mercedes is far behind with their car. It’s not the drivers fault

  2. Viewership is way down. What a boring F1 season. Hurry up and put them all in the same car for a few races ffs.

  3. Pingback: Toto Wolff's blunt criticism of Lewis Hamilton·

  4. I think the author of this article completely misunderstood the thrust of Toto Wolff’s argument and the essence of his point. It wasnt a criticism of Lewis, it was an acknowledgment of poor car performance on the day. He even acknowledged that during the qualifying the previous day, Lewis Hamilton’s performance was the main reason why he got pole, not the car!!! I listened to Wolff’s Sky interview after the race. I think this author is twisting the underlying essence or spirit of Wolff’s point of view in that interview.

  5. I don’t agree with the criticism of Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes car have different characteristics, it slower with a full tank but as the fuel burns off the car becomes very competitive. The Mercedes car lacks down force that’s why it is slower at the beginning of the race. In my opinion Red Bulls rear wing did the magic trick. McLaren has copied that concept. I don’t think the Mercedes car is far from being a winning car.

  6. Funny how team LH keeps blaming the car and not the driver. During the Merc dominance years, it was always the driver and never the car…

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