Mercedes’ performance in the Spanish Grand Prix showed that the team had “probably the fastest racing car today”, according to team principal Toto Wolff.
George Russell finished third after holding the race lead ahead of Max Verstappen by a stage. Lewis Hamilton recovered from a first lap collision with Kevin Magnussen to finish fifth, despite having a power unit issue in the closing laps.
The team introduced a significant upgrade for their W13 this weekend which Wolff says has resulted in a significant performance boost. “We literally learn by doing,” he said. “These regulations caught us off guard, in a way, and step by step we understand what we need to do to bring that performance back into the car.
“We saw another big step forward this weekend, we probably halved the front-runners disadvantage. But still, there’s a long way to go to be up there in the fight.
Wolff was particularly encouraged by Hamilton’s recovery campaign. “With Lewis we had probably the fastest race car today. He was 15 seconds behind at the end and he caught up all the way, in the stages of the race he was the fastest. And that shows the potential of the car.
After his experience in Jeddah, where he started 15th and finished only 10th, Hamilton feared he could no longer score points in Spain and suggested it might be best to save the engine. Wolff said his rise in the points was a morale-boosting result.
“The dynamic between the driver and the team is something so important that it’s clear,” he said. “Having a crash at the start of the race and you’re like, ‘not yet’ and you’re not featured because I think he was about 38 seconds behind the last cars after he stopped and that’s basically gameover.
“But then the fact that he went and then showed that really good pace was important, not only for his morale, but also for our morale. And who would have thought he had climbed to fourth place, before the problem arose.
“It felt like a world championship winning race car he was driving, it wouldn’t have been possible in previous races. It reminded me of last year and previous years when our car was really on top of its shape. And the driver.
However, Hamilton was told to use only 50% throttle for the closing laps due to a power unit issue that dropped him to fifth behind Carlos Sainz Jnr. Russell was asked for a similar, albeit less spectacular, lift.
“There are some concerns,” admitted Wolff. “We had a water leak on Lewis’s car and general overheating on George’s and that’s a concern. But obviously we have to look at the hardware.
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2022 Spanish Grand Prix
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