Mercedes form “unacceptable” in F1 title fight

After difficult weekends in Monaco and Baku, Wolff believes his squad has under-delivered and needs to get back to its A-game from the French Grand Prix if it is to stop Red Bull pulling away.

Wolff said that its Baku woes, which included Valtteri Bottas having no pace and Lewis Hamilton throwing away victory with a lock-up at the restart after he accidentally hit a wrong button on his steering wheel, left him “destroyed” and frustrated.

“I think there’s lots of things that are not running smoothly as they have in the past few years,” said Wolff.

“Operationally we are not at our A-game. We haven’t found really the sweet spot of the car through qualifying and race, of having a quick qualifying car and a quick race car.

“There’s just so much that we need to improve, that I just want to get on it right now, after this call, in order to make sure that we are actually able to compete for this championship.

“You can’t continue losing points, like we’ve done in Monaco and here. It is just not acceptable for all of us.”

Wolff said that dealing with the disappointment of Monaco, where Bottas was forced out through a pitstop error and Hamilton failed to finish in the top six, plus it difficulties in Baku, had left him facing the biggest challenge since he took over at Mercedes.

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Asked if these was the hardest weeks he could remember, he said: “Yeah, they are the toughest. Because not having performance in Monaco, and Valtteri, who would have made it solid on the podium, needing a pitstop of 36 hours, is not really a great achievement, based on the standards that we’re setting ourselves.

“Then the car that was almost all sessions [in Baku] nowhere. Then, to be honest, cruising in third and even trying to make it was okay.

“But it’s just not acceptable that we are not getting the car into a performant position after the start, or out of the pitstops. It’s just we’re losing seconds over seconds.”

While Max Verstappen’s retirement from the lead in Baku did at least ensure the world championship positions remained stable, Wolff said that the nature of Hamilton’s exit in Baku had been especially painful to endure.

“Both of us are destroyed, to be honest,” said Wolff. “For him obviously, as a driver, you have it, it’s so close, and then it’s all gone.

“We just need to be the best, the best of us, and the best that we have. And we haven’t given the drivers a competitive package this weekend. It’s been far from a competitive package.

“That is the frustration. It is not only the incident at the end, that frustrates. It’s overall not meeting our own expectations. All of us together: Lewis, the engineers, myself, everybody in the team.”

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