Why Mercedes is vulnerable at the Belgian Grand Prix

Toto Wolff believes a perfect storm of conditions is hurting Mercedes' hopes of success in the Belgian Grand Prix

Why Mercedes is vulnerable at the Belgian Grand Prix

The super-soft tyre is not one that works for Mercedes at this track, in particular given the high temperatures and its abrasive nature, with polesitter Nico Rosberg suggesting he will not use it at all in the race.

For Lewis Hamilton, who will start on the back row of the grid after accruing 55 places in penalties for three power unit changes, his hopes of a charge through the field could also be affected.

"We seem to struggle more than other teams with overheating and blistering," said Wolff.

"It's odd that it's on particular surfaces and circuits, and as a consequence, the normal one-second gap from the soft to the super-soft doesn't materialise because the super-softs give up.

"Our performance on the soft would be what we deem as normal, but we are not able to extract more from the softer tyre."

Hamilton could miss next Mercedes upgrade

Wolff said Mercedes is finding it difficult to pinpoint the cause of its difficulties.

"There is not one factor that makes it go out of control," he said.

"The asphalt is very abrasive, it's very stony, and that uses up the tyre much more.

"But if all odds go against us - a particular Tarmac, the heat, high-energy corners, and the super-soft - then the consequence can be like we've seen today."

Given the problems, Wolff suggested on reflection taking Hamilton's penalties at the next race at Monza might have been preferable given the current championship leader faces a tough race from the back.

"In hindsight, if we had known - which we didn't - then Monza would have been the better choice," said Wolff.

"But I am 100% convinced, given the parameters and information we had before Spa, taking the penalty here and getting a new engine into Lewis' car was the right decision.

Hamilton won't catch leaders - Ricciardo

"But if you look at gaps now, and if it's hot tomorrow, then it's going to be very difficult for him to recover to a sensible position."

Assessing his prospects, Hamilton believes it may be a tough ask to even get into the points.

"With these tyres the way they are, which are a bit of a mess, it's going to be tough out there for everyone, and it will definitely be tough to come through and get on the podium or win," said Hamilton.

"Being in traffic, it's very unlikely I'm going to get to my stop target, or go longer than the guys that are in front of me.

"I envisage tomorrow is going to be hard to even get into the top 10 with the tyres the way they are.

"I hope I prove myself wrong, and I am pleasantly surprised."

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