Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had admitted that Lewis Hamilton has been badly affected by what happened at the end of Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku – and that he shares his driver’s dismay.
“Both of us are destroyed to be honest,” Wolff told the media after the end of the race. “But it is for him, obviously, as a driver – it’s so close and then it’s all gone.
Hamilton had bounced back from a poor Friday to take a front row spot for the start of the race. He briefly led before a delay on pit lane dropped him behind the two Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
Verstappen’s retirement with tyre failure in the closing stages gave Hamilton a chance to seize victory if he could pass Perez at the final restart, but he ended up running too deep into turn 1 and dropped out of the top ten altogether.
- Read also: Perez wins Baku shoot-out after Verstappen disaster
“It just feels painful. You can see we had the win, we had the hand almost close to the trophy because Max didn’t score.”
But he defended his driver and refuted suggestions that it was a big mistake by Hamilton that had cost the team this weekend.
“No, I think he had the position. I think the move was totally okay on the inside,” he claimed. “I think that was a perfect start and the perfect move at the beginning.
“It can’t be called a mistake. It was just when Sergio came over, [Lewis] touched a button and the brake balance changed,” he told Sky Sports F1.
“The brake balance went all the way forward and ultimately the car couldn’t stop.
“He just doesn’t make any mistakes. That is what you need to remember. I wouldn’t wish for anybody else to be in the car.”
Wolff denied that the clouds of smoke billowing from the brake ducts of Hamilton’s car had been a factor. “I don’t think that was the problem. I think it was more a simple, how can I say, finger problem.
“It was just that the brakes were not there, or were not set to the right position, and that is why he missed the braking point.
“But I don’t know. It’s just the emotion of frustration. It’s just so overwhelming at the moment,” he admitted. “I would have taken third or this result.
Wolff said that the disappointment was even worse because of how close this world championship is shaping up, with Max Verstappen still leading the drivers standings and Red Bull now 26 points ahead of Mercedes in the constructors battle.
“From this year’s running, we just need to be the best. The best of us, the best that we have,” he stressed. “Operationally, we just need to perform faultlessly and all of us haven’t haven’t done that the last two weekends.
“We still have our underlying issues, that we’re not getting off the start into the happy window of the tyres with the set-up.
“Also after the stops we make operational mistakes and we lose all the time that you can see today in the twisty old town and city. This is what happened in Monaco.
“It’s not a shocker now that the car that won three races is nowhere,” he admitted. “It is not. We know the deficit, we’ve seen that in these particular parts of the tracks.
“We know that we have gaps that we just need to overcome. The 90 degree corners we’ve actually been quite competitive. it was all the twisty bits.
“You could see in the middle sector we were really close, it was quick on the straight but the middle sector was a total shocker.”
“And we haven’t given the drivers a competitive package this weekend,” he commented. “Far from a competitive package.
“And that is the frustration. It’s not only the incident at the end [of the Azerbaijan GP] that frustrates, its overall not meeting our own expectations. All of us together, Lewis, engineers, myself, for everybody.
“What I take away is that we must bring our ‘A’ game to fight for this championship, and our car was not there all weekend.”
But Wolff said that he and Hamilton would work through the current problems and find a solution.
“We have four hours together on the plane now. Maybe we’ll drink,” Wolff said.. “Maybe that’s not good to say on Sky, but we will drink!
“We have no doubt, this is a team that is so strong and so angry. We’ve got to transform the anger into positive force. We’re warriors and we’re going to come back.”
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