Toto Wolff talk through F1 Austrian GP as he adds more on Lewis Hamilton damage, with the Brit noting how they lost an easy second.
Aside the hold up from McLaren’s Lando Norris early on, Mercedes and Hamilton had it under control eventually with second place behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, until the Brit suffered damage on his car around Lap 30 of the grand prix.
For a brief moment, Mercedes were not certain about their decision, but eventually decided to let Valtteri Bottas pass Hamilton, who was certainly struggling to hold on. The Brit lost third to Norris, but had fourth under his control with a huge gap behind.
While Hamilton noted that it was an easy second miss, he didn’t know where the damage came from and he didn’t think he went wide enough at Turn 10 to create the damage. Wolff, meanwhile, revealed the initial findings of losing about 30 points of downforce.
Wolff was not certain how the damage happened, but he didn’t rule out fatigue as one of the points. “I think it was around Lap 30, out of Turn 10, where there’s a pretty aggressive kerb,” he said to written media. “We didn’t see that was a driving mistake. It was pretty much a load. We need to analyse why that was.
“We have calculated that we lost about 30 points, but that isn’t a number that is not, not checked yet. But there was quite a loss in performance, and that meant he was pushing the tyres in a direction that wouldn’t have made it to the end probably. So we wanted to evaluate what his performance really was after the damage, and whether it was possible that Valtteri could have protected against Lando, but that wasn’t possible.
“He was also fair towards Valtteri to do his own race, and this is when we decided to switch, obviously understanding that we would lose P3 to McLaren,” summed up Wolff, as he added it was very difficult to be sure if the loss of downforce was equivalent to loss of a lap time on a short circuit like Red Bull Ring.
“No, it’s very difficult to say, because it’s just a first guess on what we see on the sensors,” said Wolff. “That also, you can’t really translate that onto lap time. On rebalancing the car, the new tyre obviously masks a little bit, such a loss of performance, and gave a relative advantage to the guys that were running them all the time.”
From the side of Hamilton, it was all about damage limitation, but he dropped even further to Max Verstappen by finishing fourth. “I already said before the race that it would be very hard to beat Max of course,” he said to TV media. “But obviously it’s frustrating to lose so much downforce on the rear of the car and not be able to hold on to second place.
“So a lot of points lost. I would have been second. I was in second when all of a sudden it obviously broke. It would have been an easy second, generally. But obviously not able to catch those guys ahead. As for the damage, I wasn’t going over the kerb more than anyone else, so I have no idea where it happened. But there’s a lot of damage,” summed up Hamilton.
Mercedes managed to hold onto second with Bottas and also bridge some gap to Red Bull in the constructors’ standings, but Wolff agreed losing the points to Verstappen was not good. The Austrian felt if there was no Norris hold-up early on, there was a better chance for Hamilton to chase him at the front.
“Of course, losing every point is a blow, and he lost what was it, six points compared to finishing second,” said Wolff. “Adding that all up is obviously making the whole momentum going in the wrong direction. But this is so far from over. It’s 32 points he’s behind Max. That’s a DNF away. And he’s in the hunt again.
“If we look at Baku and the potential, and we look at the other races, overall we just need to up our game, make less mistakes, and continue to understand the car better. Then we’re still massively in the hunt. Overall, I take it as a good result because I think if we haven’t have been stuck behind the McLaren at the beginning where we lost chunks of time we would have been racing him.
“I’m not sure it would have been enough to win the race but the race pace was there and it would have been good and you can see that with Valtteri’s pace once Lewis lost downforce the pace was there and there was never any risk from the back. In a way that Sunday was much Better than last Sunday in what we would expect in performance of the call,” summed up Wolff.
Here’s Lewis Hamilton getting passed by Lando Norris: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2021-austrian-grand-prix-norris-passes-struggling-hamilton-to-take-p3.1704364644307509352.html
Here’s how F1 Austrian GP panned out