Toto Wolff says the “performance swings” between Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston are “quite interesting”

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Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

After Lewis Hamilton and George Russell qualified 5th and 11th respectively in the Austrian Grand Prix, the W14 failed to shine in Sunday’s race.

The Mercedes cars were not up to the standards of their rivals, which caused frustration for both drivers, but it was most noticeable for Hamilton as he struggled to fight Ferrari and was unable to hold off McLaren youngster Lando Norris, whose car had significant upgrades for the weekend.

The driver of car number 44 exceeded the track limits several times, resulting in a five-second penalty and, in addition, several radio messages with the team complaining about the car’s performance and demanding penalties from several of the drivers.

One of the more interesting radios was Toto Wolff’s response to Hamilton telling him “Lewis, the car is bad. We know, please drive it,” as the seven-time World Champion repeatedly asked if other drivers got penalties.

When the team principal was questioned about this, he clarified: “There were a lot of discussions about track limits and whether they were enforced or not,” Wolff said of the matter post-race. “I felt that I wanted to just make sure that we were doing the best out of the package that didn’t perform and just try to give it the best shot that have.

“You should hear us talking on the phone and meeting each other. That was nothing,” the Austrian added.

At the same time, Wolff made it clear that he did so in the best interests of the team and to calm things down: “But only for the best interests of the drivers and the team, and sometimes you have moments where you need to calm things down.”

Although the Austrian Grand Prix looked promising for the Brackley-based team after very strong performances in Spain and Canada, they ended the weekend scoring just eleven points with Russell in seventh and Hamilton in eighth + the younger Brit’s point from the sprint. They’re now just three points ahead of Aston Martin (175) in the battle for P2 in the Constructors’ Championship.

The Mercedes boss added that it was a very difficult day for the team and spoke of the fluctuating form of the teams behind Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing: “It was a bruising day. We couldn’t make the car quick. We saw it from Friday onwards that we were lacking a couple of tenths or a bit more,” Wolff added.

“I think the swings are quite interesting. One weekend it’s us who are the first challenger [to Red Bull], and then it’s Ferrari, and then it’s Aston Martin, and this time we were on the back-end of the group.

The poor performance of the car frustrated not only the drivers, but also the team, as they were unable to find the pace: “We’re sitting there for 90 minutes trying to optimise the strategy or getting the best of the drivers, but there’s just no inherent pace. It was a tough 90 minutes for us. The car was never in the right place. We suffered from all of the conditions, from understeer to oversteer. It was never any good.”