RACE DEBRIEF

    Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff watched his squad take their 265th podium finish at the Bahrain Grand Prix. But Wolff admitted that his team had been “punching above their weight” last Sunday, as he admitted that fighting for either championship in 2022 could be a struggle.

    Lewis Hamilton and new team mate George Russell were seemingly set to finish the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix in P5 and P6, having never looked like a serious threat to the Ferraris and Red Bulls at the head of the pack.

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    But then late retirements for both Red Bulls promoted Hamilton onto the podium in third, with Russell finishing fourth – with Wolff gracious enough to admit that the result had an element of a luck to it, saying: “Today we were punching above our weight class, with the Red Bulls DNF-ing.

    “At the moment we are fifth and sixth on the track, and we are trying to recover ground but it is not going to come from one day to the other – we’ll keep pushing."

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    Clarifying Mercedes’ particular issues in Bahrain, Wolff added: “I think we were over-winged today. We had too much drag and that is just because we are lacking parts at the moment. But hopefully we can remedy that, and make progress on the top two’s [Ferrari and Red Bull’s] advantage.

    “We really need to leave no stone unturned on the [power unit] side and look for all performance gains. But the wing was the issue for us today on straightline speed.”

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    Ferrari may have netted a perfect score in Bahrain – victory for Charles Leclerc plus a bonus point for Fastest Lap, allied to a P2 for Carlos Sainz – but Mercedes at least netted 27 points to sit second in the championship ahead of Haas in a surprise third, with Red Bull yet to score.

    But Wolff was pessimistic when asked about the chance of Mercedes being in the fight for either the drivers’ or constructors’ championship in 2022, as he now prepares for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

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    “It’s too early to look at the championship as it stands,” said Wolff. “If you look at the pecking order today it seems a long shot to even be in contention for any of the championships.

    “If I look at [Bahrain] as a single race weekend, we probably scored the maximum of points that we could have. And we need to take it from there. Every weekend counts and at the moment, it’s singular events because realistically, when you're third on the road, you can’t think about winning it.”

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