Mercedes Toto Wolff Lewis Hamilton George Russell
Mercedes Toto Wolff Lewis Hamilton George Russell Source: BVM Sports

Mercedes-AMG The Petronas Formula One Team found themselves falling short of their pole position aspirations at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Team principal Toto Wolff blamed his drivers, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell. He accused them of failing to adjust to the swiftly changing track conditions. This occurred during the qualifying session. A storm was approaching the Interlagos circuit during the final qualifying segment (Q3). Teams were well aware that getting their cars on the track early was of utmost importance. This early action was essential for securing a favorable grid position.

Wolff Feels Mercedes Is Not “Adaptive”

As rain approached in the distance, Mercedes found themselves in a favorable position. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, their two drivers, were third and fourth in the pitlane queue, ready for the start of Q3. They followed closely behind the two Aston Martin cars, aiming to secure a good position for the upcoming session. However, despite their initial positioning, Hamilton and Russell couldn’t take full advantage of the opportunity. They failed to get their tires into the ideal operating temperature range. Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll, driving for Aston Martin, aggressively pushed their cars to warm up their tires during the out-laps. In contrast, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, both from Mercedes, opted for a more cautious approach.

F1/Lewis Hamilton and George Russell

To make matters worse, George Russell was overtaken by Max Verstappen as he left the pits. This turn of events proved crucial, as Max Verstappen eventually secured the pole position. The world champion, Lewis Hamilton, recognized the importance of pushing during the out-lap. However, despite this awareness, he found himself in fifth place on the grid. George Russell, his teammate, secured the sixth position. Wolff expressed his frustration, stating that Mercedes had not been adaptive enough in response to the rapidly changing conditions. The Aston Martins and Verstappen’s Red Bull had stormed away with warm tires while Mercedes struggled to keep pace. The team ended up being nearly a second off the previous time and eight-tenths off the quickest lap time, highlighting the missed opportunity.

Drivers Unable To Understand Varied Pace At Sao Paulo

Mercedes’ trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin, thought that lining up in the pitlane was the correct strategy. However, the team failed to consider the essential factor of tire temperature. For their final run, they left the garage early but lost too much tire temperature while waiting for the green light. The lack of grip during the start of their flying laps was a significant issue. This lack of grip proved costly for the Mercedes drivers. It became more problematic as the track started to get damp from the rain. Hamilton, despite his frustration at finishing fifth, recognized that the gap to the front, 0.742 seconds behind Verstappen, didn’t accurately reflect Mercedes’ true pace relative to Red Bull. He hoped for a better race, emphasizing the difficulty of judging the car’s performance under such rapidly changing weather conditions.

Andrew Shovlin F1 4 2023
F1/Andrew Shovlin

Additionally, the article delves into the intriguing dynamic between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, who share the same team but often display varying paces from race to race. Although Hamilton holds a clear point lead, the underlying speed of the two drivers remains closely matched, with neither able to explain the inconsistencies in their performances. As Mercedes looks ahead to the last few races of the season, they must address their adaptability and tire management issues to make the most of their potential. The ongoing rivalry between Hamilton and Russell adds a layer of complexity to the team dynamic, leaving fans and experts eagerly awaiting the 2024 season when Mercedes plans to provide a car that eliminates obvious shortcomings and allows both drivers to showcase their full potential.