Wolff: Mercedes F1 form right now "totally unacceptable"

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the performance of his team at the moment is "totally unacceptable", after a disappointing showing in Formula 1’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Wolff: Mercedes F1 form right now "totally unacceptable"

As the team continues to chase answers to its porpoising problems, Lewis Hamilton had one of his worst qualifying sessions for Mercedes in terms of pure pace as he ended up getting dumped out of Q1 in Jeddah.

He ended up 16th fastest, but will start 15th following Mick Schumacher’s withdrawal.

With Red Bull and Ferrari appearing to be a step ahead, and Mercedes still unable to exploit the potential it believes there is within the W13, it was left to George Russell to carry the team’s hopes in Q3 as he ended up sixth.

Reflecting on where Mercedes is, Wolff said he was not unhappy that the team was facing a strong battle this year after years of domination – but was clear that it needed to be closer to the front.

“I love competition and I've always loved competition,” explained Wolff. “We had a really strong run of eight years where we were leading the pack, not always, but we kind of managed our way into the lead.

“This time, for me, feels a little bit like 2013, where we just weren't up to the speed with the Red Bull and probably also not with the Ferraris, but we kept fighting and this is how I feel at the moment.

“We need to fight. It's certainly totally unacceptable where we are on performance. We're third on the road, and sometimes not even like today. So it's just not an option to stay where we are.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, George Russell, Mercedes W13

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, George Russell, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Hamilton’s Q1 disaster was prompted by him heading in a wrong direction with the set-up of the car.

While it was not radically different to what Russell was running, the decision to put more focus on the front end meant that Hamilton had no confidence in the rear as it was too loose.

Wolff added: “We were experimenting with set-ups to find out where the sweet spot of the car is. And so on Lewis' side, they went a bit bolder. The outcome was that basically they had no rear end in the car. And that explains that big lead time deficit.”

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While porpoising remains Mercedes’ biggest headache at the moment, the team also knows it is not its only problem – as it faces an overweight car plus not having a low enough drag rear wing available yet.

Wolff added: “You can see between Lewis' and George's performance, there was not a huge set of changes that happened, but they were big enough to have dramatic consequences on the performance of the car between going out in Q1 and making it solidly into Q3. So that's why this car is so tricky to set-up.

“We had a lower drag rear wing, we took the Gurney off, but still it wasn't enough to shave more drag off the car.

“But generally, I would say this isn't the single problem. We have many parts of the car that don't work, that we don't understand, that don't perform enough. And this is not where we all expect the car to be.”

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