Wolff says fight for P2 in constructors' 'significantly more difficult' for Mercedes after low-scoring Singapore Grand Prix
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff believes his team's hopes of beating Ferrari to second place in the constructors’ championship have taken a dent after a low scoring outing for the Silver Arrows at the Singapore Grand Prix.
Mercedes came into the weekend 35 points behind Ferrari in the standings, and with hopes of sealing their first victory of the season in Singapore. However, a tough evening at Marina Bay saw Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finish in P9 and P14 respectively, with Russell having started in the pit lane.
The eight-time world champions have now fallen 66 points behind the Scuderia – following Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz’s double podium finish – much to Toto Wolff's frustration.
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“This season has given us several tough lessons and today was another one," said Wolff. "We started from opposite ends of the grid with our two cars, but we couldn’t capitalise on the car’s race pace with either of them when it came to an end result.
“The biggest frustration is that we couldn’t build on the signs of competitive performance we saw in FP2 and in qualifying. Our championship fight for P2 has got significantly more difficult with this result, but the only thing to do is to collect ourselves and throw our energy into the next race in Suzuka to rebuild momentum.”
Hamilton was fourth when he crashed into the barrier at Turn 7 chasing Carlos Sainz. While he was able to continue, he dropped down to eighth before running wide into a corner looking to overtake Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages, resulting in Max Verstappen making it passed him. Later, Wolff revealed the issues Hamilton was having to contend with during the race.
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“Lewis was fighting for the podium for much of the race, but also battling a car balance that was on a knife edge today, in difficult conditions and on the bumpy surface,” said Wolff. “After he locked up and damaged the wing, the stop to change tyres and the nose cost him position.
“[He] then he lost out even more when cars ahead pitted under Safety Car and jumped ahead. That left him stuck in a train of cars on very similar-aged tyres, and he couldn’t make up any ground.”
Team mate Russell qualified in 11th but started from the pit lane after taking engine penalties. He struggled to make his way through the field and opted to make the switch from the intermediate tyre to the mediums early. While the decision did not pay off as expected, Wolff said the team they had nothing to lose.
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“For George, we rolled the dice on dry tyres when he was running out of the points. In hindsight, it was clearly too early,” Wolff admitted. “But he had nothing to lose, so we were prepared to take the gamble.
"Even so, as the race unfolded, he was still on course to make it back to the points until the collision with Mick [Schumacher], which put him last on the road.”