The Brazilian Grand Prix proved to be a challenging event for Mercedes, with both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell struggling mightily and suffering a significant setback in their campaign against Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Hamilton’s performance in São Paulo was far from his usual standard. After a modest P7 in the sprint race, his fortunes did not improve in the main event, where he dropped from third to eighth after the red flag restart. This result was in stark contrast to his commanding presence in previous races and highlighted the inconsistent performance of the Mercedes car this season.
Russell’s weekend was even more difficult. Initially frustrated to be trailing Hamilton, his race pace deteriorated, pushing him to the fringe of the top ten. Eventually, an engine cooling problem forced him to retire, capping a disappointing weekend for the young British driver.
Verstappen’s dominant performance
In contrast, Max Verstappen showed why he is the reigning world champion. Taking pole position and then winning the sprint race with relative ease, he was in commanding control of the Grand Prix, only missing out on the fastest lap. His performance cemented his supremacy for the 2023 season, with a remarkable 33-point haul from the Brazilian weekend.
Mathematical impossibility for Mercedes
After Brazil, Mercedes found themselves well behind Verstappen. With a maximum of 88 points still up for grabs in the remaining two races in Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi, the gap between Verstappen and the combined total of Hamilton and Russell is an insurmountable 142 points.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff expressed his frustration and disappointment with the team’s performance. He openly described the car’s performance as “inexcusable” and “miserable”, highlighting the difficulties of managing its unpredictable nature. Wolff’s comments reflect the need for significant improvements and a more reliable performance from Mercedes next season.
“That car finished second last week and the week before, and whatever we did to it was horrible,” said Wolff,
“Lewis survived out there, but George, I can only feel for the two driving such a miserable thing.
“It shows how difficult the car is, it’s on a knife’s edge. You’ve got to develop that better for next year because it can’t be that within seven days you’re finishing on the podium, solid, with one of the two quickest cars, and then you’re nowhere and finishing eighth.”
The Brazilian Grand Prix not only highlighted Mercedes’ struggles, but also underlined the need for the team to find a solution to their ongoing problems as they look ahead to the final races of the season and beyond.
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