Wolff: “The worst weekend” in my time in F1, slams “inexcusable” Mercedes pace in São Paulo GP

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Toto Wolff was absolutely furious as Mercedes got a kicking at the São Paulo Grand Prix on Sunday.

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Lewis Hamilton finished P8, almost 63s adrift of race winner Max Verstappen. George Russell was only heading for P10 before his retirement due to “high and worsening PU oil temperature”.

It had become clear already in the sprint that they were in trouble as Russell finished P4, 25.8s behind the victor Max Verstappen. Both Russell and Hamilton got eaten up due to massive tyre wear across the two races.

The shocking level of performance in Brazil is even more puzzling when you consider Hamilton’s very strong drives to P2 in Austin (before his disqualification) and the same position in Mexico 8 days ago.

Mercedes had brought a floor update to the United States Grand Prix. It seemed to help the W14 quite a bit.

Speaking post-race, the Austrian did not hold back in his assessment of how bad it was.

“Totally baffling. At the same time, unacceptable for all of us.

“We are a proper structure, a solid team — and that didn’t look like a solid team today.

“Interestingly within three consecutive races, you’re finishing a strong 2nd in both of them, challenging Max. Then a week later, you’re ending up nowhere.

“I believe this is just not on.”

You could argue Red Bull, McLaren, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Alpine and AlphaTauri all had quicker cars over the 71 laps on Sunday.

It led to Wolff declaring it as his worst day in Formula One since joining the sport as an investor with Williams in late 2009.

“Swings are on, but swings are not on from being almost quickest to being 8th.

“For me personally, the worst weekend in 13 years.”

He was even more infuriated in his interview with Sky, declaring it as inexcusable, as well as feeling bad for his drivers.

“Inexcusable performance. There are even no words for that. That car finished second last week and the week before. And whatever we did to it was horrible.

“Lewis survived out there. But, George… I can only feel for the two driving such a miserable thing.

The new floor in Austin suggested Mercedes were starting to get on the right track as they prepare for next year. They’ll be hoping this is a bump in the road as they look to catch Red Bull in 2024.

“It shows how difficult the car is, it’s on a knife’s edge. We’ve got to develop that better for next year,” said Wolff.

“Because it can’t be that within seven days, you’re finishing on the podium with probably one of the two quickest cars and then finish eighth.”

Mercedes went with a big rear wing as the cars get locked into parc fermé post-FP1 on sprint weekends.

Unfortunately for them, this didn’t work. High tyre wear led to a lot of sliding around. They also had a complete lack of straight-line speed and no fundamental pace.

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Add that all up and it saw Hamilton and Russell end up getting passed with ease on multiple occasions.

“I think straightline speed was one issue, but probably not the main factor,” added Wolff.

“The main factor was that we couldn’t go around the corners with a bigger wing with the pace we needed and we were killing the tyres, just eating them up within a few laps.

“We are clearly not the world champions on sprint race weekends. We do some good work here on track to get it done.

“But still, that doesn’t explain what goes what went wrong. I mean, that car almost drove like on three wheels and not four.

Mercedes could go winless for the first time since 2011. That doesn’t bother Wolff, however.

“This car doesn’t deserve a win.”