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Formula 1 Brazilian GP

Wolff: Mercedes not “adaptive” enough as it blew Brazil F1 pole chance

Mercedes believes failure to prepare its tyres better for the low grip conditions at the end of qualifying for Formula 1’s Brazilian Grand Prix cost it a shot at pole.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, in the pit lane

With a storm blowing across the Interlagos circuit for the Q3 segment of qualifying, teams knew that getting out on track early enough before the rain started was critical to secure a good grid slot.

But although Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were third and fourth in the queue at the end of the pitlane for the start of Q3, behind the two Aston Martins, they subsequently did not make the most of the opportunity to get their tyres into the right operating window.

As Aston Martin duo Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll pushed hard to get heat into their rubber on their out-laps, Hamilton and Russell took a more cautious approach.

Russell was even overtaken by eventual pole position man Max Verstappen on his way out of the pits, with the world champion knowing he needed to attack on the out-lap.

As Hamilton and Russell ended up fifth and sixth on the grid, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said Mercedes should have been more adaptive considering how conditions were dramatically changing.

“You see how marginal the differences are in terms of out-laps and temperatures, and I think we weren't adaptive enough,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, with Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, with Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

“The Aston Martins just stormed away. Max, straight out of the garage with warm tyres, also stormed away and they were the quickest cars.

“We were one second off of the previous time, or eight tenths off the quickest time, and it shows you what we should have done.”

Wolff felt that, amid the mixed conditions that were thrown up in Q3, any spot on the grid between P1 and P8 was possible.

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Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin felt his team had done the right thing to queue up in the pitlane, but had not factored in the tyre temperature drop.

“For what turned out to be our final run, we left the garage early and queued at the end of the pitlane,” said Shovlin.

“It was clearly right to be at the front of the pack, but we'd lost too much tyre temperature whilst waiting for the green light. We therefore didn't have good grip opening the lap; that was particularly costly given that the circuit had started to get damp from the rain.”

Hamilton felt the eventual gap to the front, as he ended up 0.742s off Verstappen, was not representative of how the Mercedes pace really stacked up against Red Bull.

“Fifth is never that great,” he said. “But yeah, I did the best I could. Hopefully we'll have a better race.

“The car was showing signs of decent performance. But we are generally a couple of tenths off the top guys.

“I think the circumstances at the end, the conditions, probably have us maybe a little bit further back [than we should be]. It's difficult to say.”

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