Toto Wolff bemoans Mercedes' 'hand down the toilet' moment

Toto Wolff likened Mercedes’ move to put Lewis Hamilton and George Russell on hard tyres to “putting the hand in the toilet” after the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Mercedes pair were around 35 seconds behind race leader Charles Leclerc before the Safety Car came out late in the race, with a clear pace deficit to Ferrari and Red Bull in front of them.

But late retirements for both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez enabled Hamilton and Russell to move up into P3 and P4 respectively come the chequered flag – a bonus for the Silver Arrows, given their lack of speed compared to their rivals for most of the weekend.

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Wolff was pleased overall with how his drivers performed on the softer compounds compared to the cars in front, but he attributed a significant portion of their troubles to pitting for what turned out to be the wrong tyres for them.

“I think with the soft tyre, on pure pace before the tyre degrades, we are almost there – not where Leclerc is – but with the others, but then degradation is too big,” the Mercedes team principal told Sky Sports F1 after the race.

“And then obviously we tried to do something different, but putting the hard [tyre] on was putting the hand in the toilet and it was really a second slower every single lap. Lesson learned, so maybe that 35 seconds [gap] is a bit against us.”

Hamilton and Russell’s move up the field late in the race came as a surprise to the team and the fans watching, as Verstappen and Perez’s troubles late on left Red Bull without points after the first race of the season.

 

The team have made no bones about the fact Red Bull and Ferrari currently have a faster package than them, and Wolff acknowledged that the 27 points gained for them in the Constructors’ Championship was higher than they had anticipated heading into the weekend.

“You can say how you manage expectations – if we would have come in last year third and fourth, it would have been very frustrating,” he said.

“But this year, I think we are punching above our weight class. With the Red Bulls DNF-ing, third and fourth is a fantastic result.”

 

 

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