Wolff concedes Verstappen ‘in a league of his own’ as he urges Mercedes to recover from Spa ‘depression’
Mercedes endured their lowest-scoring weekend since Round 4 at Imola after George Russell finished fourth and Lewis Hamilton retired from the Belgian Grand Prix, but Team Principal Toto Wolff urged the team to keep their heads up heading to Zandvoort.
Hamilton and Fernando Alonso tangled on Lap 1 to end the seven-time champion’s race while Russell finished P4, ahead of Alonso, at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday.
“I don’t think we can be satisfied with that. If you see Verstappen being in a league of his own, it’s something that we really need to find out, how we can improve our car – the gap is just too big,” said Wolff.
“I think that’s just the reality. We need to accept that the car is very difficult to drive, hasn’t got the pace on a single lap, so we need to work ourselves out of this.”
After a string of six consecutive podiums from Azerbaijan to Hungary, Mercedes fell out of the rostrum places while Red Bull dominated the race at Spa-Francorchamps. Wolff added that the team seem to be swinging “between depression and mania” as he looked forward to this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix.
“That was clearly not great from us all weekend, so I hope that a track [such as Zandvoort] would suit us more, that we are more competitive, but we mustn’t be too much between depression and mania.
“Today would be all the reasons to be depressed; in Hungary we were thinking ‘yes absolutely, we are going to win a race’, so we will never give up.”
Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin added that his squad must ensure that the Mercedes W13 works well on a range of low and high-downforce tracks after a difficult race in Belgium.
“The weekend overall has been tough,” said Shovlin. “We’d hoped to move forward here with our updates and whilst it seems that Ferrari are closer to us on race pace, Red Bull are clearly not.
“We have struggled with the various compromises the car has here, much more so than the races leading into the summer break and that’s definitely made our lives more difficult. In many ways that has given some useful learning, the car isn’t yet performing well enough over a range of tracks so it’s clear we need to widen the working window.”