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Wolff: “Unacceptable” Brazilian GP my worst weekend in F1

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has labelled the “unacceptable” Brazilian Grand Prix weekend as his worst in Formula 1, as his team chases answers for what went wrong.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Off the back of competitive showings in the United States and Mexico, and returning to the scene of its 2022 triumph, Mercedes had hoped for another strong outing at Interlagos.

But it endured one of its least competitive weekends of the year, with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell struggling for speed in qualifying and then being well off the pace in the race.

Russell managed fourth in the sprint before retiring from the grand prix, while Hamilton grabbed a seventh in the sprint and finished eighth on Sunday – but more than one minute behind race-winner Max Verstappen. Mercedes-powered customers McLaren and Aston Martin both finished on the podium.

Wolff said the lack of performance shown over the weekend was confusing, and not something that the squad should simply brush off.

“Swings [of performance] are on, but swings are not on from being almost quickest to being wherever we ended up... eighth,” he said. “For me, personally, the worst weekend in 13 years.

“Totally baffling. At the same time unacceptable for all of us. We are a proper structure, solid team and that didn't look like a solid team. 

“Within three consecutive races you're finishing a strong second, and both of them challenging Max, and then a week later you're ending up nowhere. I believe this is just not on.”

Mechanics of the Mercedes AMG team work on the car of Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, on the grid before the race

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Mechanics of the Mercedes AMG team work on the car of Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, on the grid before the race

Ride height too high

Mercedes said there was no simple answer for why it so was badly off the pace in Brazil. But Wolff did admit it had been far too conservative with its ride height, which could have played a factor.

In the wake of Hamilton’s disqualification from second place in the US GP for excessive plank wear, the team appears to have sacrificed more than it needed to in Brazil to ensure there were no legality issues this time around.

“We ran the car way too high… but that wasn't the main reason for an absolute off weekend in terms of performance,” added Wolff.

“There's something fundamentally wrong mechanically rather. It's not a rear wing and it's not the car being slightly too high, because we're talking a millimetre or two. That is performance, but that isn't the explanation for a total off.”

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The pain of the Brazilian GP is especially confusing for Mercedes because it comes just one year after the team delivered the perfect car and set-up to allow Russell to win.

Asked if this outing meant the team had ultimately learned nothing about its car in 12 months, Wolff said: “It is baffling. From a really quick car, the best balanced and drivers happy, to a nightmare. How's that even possible? 

“What is it? What is it that's not right? I wouldn't be surprised that we analyse the cars in the next few days and we find out that there was a mechanical issue in the way we set them up or something. But I don’t know what it will be.”

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