F1: Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits it’s ‘extremely painful’ not being in championship battle

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits it is ‘extremely painful’ not to be part of Formula One’s ‘fun games’ at the front, with his team well off the pace of leading duo Red Bull and Ferrari

  • Mercedes have suffered a very poor start to the Formula One season
  • Red Bull and Ferrari have stolen a march on the constructors’ champions in 2022
  • Lewis Hamilton could only finish 10th in Saudi Arabia, with George Russell fifth 
  • Team principal Toto Wolff admits the team is hurting from being off the pace 

Toto Wolff has conceded that Mercedes’ drop in pace at the start of the Formula One season has left him hurting at not being involved in the championship battle.

Mercedes have been the top dogs in Formula One since 2014 and entered 2022 looking to win the constructors’ championship for a ninth season in a row.

But following a raft of regulation and rule changes that have brought in a new era of F1 cars, Mercedes have been found off the pace of front runners Ferrari and Red Bull who have respectively won the opening two grands prix through Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is hurting from his team not being involved in a championship fight

At Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, leading Mercedes driver George Russell was a distant fifth place behind the top two teams, while seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton suffered a miserable weekend to only finish 10th.

Having constantly been involved in the battle for victory in the last few seasons, Wolff admits of feeling pain having to watch the championship battle from the outside. 

‘We have had the luxury of being right in the middle of those fun games for the last eight years,’ the Mercedes boss was quoted to have said by gpfans.

Lewis Hamilton (right) could only finish 10th at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday

Lewis Hamilton (right) could only finish 10th at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday

‘Actually luxury is the wrong word. We were right in the middle of those fun games in the front, and talking as a Formula One stakeholder we’re benefiting from a great show that is really spectacular to look at.

‘On the other side, it is extremely painful to not be part of those fun games by quite a chunk of lap time deficit.

‘We’re not going to rest until we are back in the mix. It is no fun at all and an exercise in humility. It’s going to make us stronger even though it’s not fun right now.’

Hamilton had suffered a disastrous qualifying in Jeddah, starting only 15th, but he had made his way up into sixth during the race after starting on the more durable harder tyre that enabled him to go further in the race without pitting.

Charles Leclerc for Ferrari (left) and Red Bull's Max Verstappen have been the pace setters

Charles Leclerc for Ferrari (left) and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen have been the pace setters

There was a chance Hamilton could have secured an excellent result by staying there behind Russell but Wolff confirmed that the Brit’s pit strategy was compromised by the retiring cars of Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso, resulting in him dropping back. 

‘The encouraging side is that his pace on the hard was positive,’ said Wolff, referring to Hamilton’s opening stint on that tyre. ‘We couldn’t tell if it was fast but it was positive.

‘Alonso slowed down during the lap, Ricciardo broke down in the entry and we told him to come in but there was a double yellow with one car slowing down and one stationary so it was a confusing situation.

‘He passed by and slowed down because of the confusion which made us come out behind [Kevin] Magnussen, then it’s game over.’

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