Toto Wolff wonders how the Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell could “even keep the car on the track” in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Team Principal Wolff apologised to Hamilton on the radio on the slowing down lap, after the seven-time champion crossed the line in P13 at Imola. Teammate Russell had benefited from a good start to jump up the order, eventually finishing an admirable P4 after Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc made a mistake and dropped down the order from P3.

The entire weekend was a disastrous one for Hamilton – he was knocked out of Q2 on Friday, starting the Sprint in P13 with Russell in P11. The pair failed to score points in the Sprint, with Russell crossing the line in P11 and Hamilton P14.

The changeable conditions in the first portion of Sunday’s race meant everyone started on intermediates and went on to switch to medium tyres on lap 18 or lap 19. This gave little opportunity for Mercedes to make up ground, and the drying conditions and subsequent increase in speed therefore only worsened their serious porpoising issue.

An apologetic and somewhat despondent Wolff clarified his comments of Hamilton’s car being “undriveable” over the radio as not pointing towards a one-off issue in the race, but rather the unsatisfying level of the car so far this season.

“The car was undriveable in the way it was undriveable before,” said Wolff. “You see the bouncing on the main straight, I wonder how the two of them can even keep the car on the track at times. Lewis deserves better from us but we are a team so we all need to do the utmost in order to provide him with a machine that is able to fight for front positions.”

Wolff also explained how he felt Hamilton did have pace to give in the W13 during the Grand Prix, but was held back by the nature of the circuit not lending itself to producing easy overtakes.

“You see when there is a DRS train like there was in the Sprint race, none of them could overtake so if you’re being boxed in by a train of cars, it’s almost impossible to overtake,” Wolff explained. “I think Lewis had much better pace than Gasly or Albon or all the other guys in front of him, but there’s one DRS straight and if you haven’t got the straight line speed you can’t pass.

“I think both drivers are doing the utmost and outperforming the car at the moment and we’ve seen that reaping the results for George who did an outstanding race, perfect start then handled a car that wasn’t tuned optimally and Lewis was just stuck there in the back.”

When asked on the atmosphere between himself, Hamilton and the team as a whole, Wolff explained how there is indeed “necessary pressure” being applied. It referred to the world feed during Hamilton’s Q2 exit when he was having an animated chat with the boss. “It’s quite funny how it’s been interpreted,” Wolff started.

“Lewis and I shared frustration that we weren’t really able to extract lap-one performance and how annoying it was. But it was basically the same point of view and just sheer anger. There is no division, and there is no blaming or anything like that. There’s pressure in the system, but I would say the necessary pressure to get things right.

“Nobody in the team is anywhere near enjoying the ride at the moment. And this team, we’ve done it in the past and we just need to dig ourselves out of that hole,” summed up Wolff. Hamilton was similarly dispirited in the post-race interviews, offering somewhat short answers and little detail as to what the root of the problem was in Imola.

He explained how he “didn’t really” find the race frustrating, adding that he “just wasn’t moving forwards”. “I just wasn’t fast enough to overtake,” Hamilton said. “I’ve definitely had lower moments so this is not the lowest [of my career].

“It has been difficult, but I don’t know what to say. It’s definitely not been easy but we all feel it as a team and at least George got some points today for the team, so my apologies to everyone that I wasn’t able to do the same. Everyone’s feeling it but everyone’s just heads down and trying their best and there’s no-one that’s giving up and everyone’s just trying to move forward as fast as they can.”

Here’s Toto Wolff on the radio to Toto Wolff: