Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says front-right tyre degradation was to blame for the team’s lacklustre performance at the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell started fifth and sixth on the grid, and looked poised to take the fight to Ferrari, who locked out the second row, after Wolff stated the cars were setup with an eye on Sunday’s raceol.
Unfortunately for Mercedes, that’s not how things played out as Ferrari and Charles Leclerc managed to split the two Red Bulls and finish second, while Sainz finished 11 seconds clear of Russell in fourth.
Hamilton retired after suffering a late hydraulic problem, and Wolff says the team had an inkling they would struggle around Yas Marina.
“I think we cooked the tyres in the first few laps, we attacked strong,” Wolff told Sky Sports. “The car seemed to be really good, and then the front right just gave up so maybe that’s something we should have predicted.
“We knew that Abu Dhabi was going to be a difficult one for the car, so at least the correlation is good. Brazil was just spectacular, dominating from the beginning to the end with a one-two so at least we ticked the box with a race win.”
Wolff ready to park W13 for good
Sunday’s race brings an end to a disappointing campaign for the Mercedes, who struggled to come to grips with the tricky W13 for much of the season.
Although the team managed to secure a one-two finish in Brazil, Wolff admits he and everyone at Brackley are ready to turn the page and focus on 2023.
“First of all we’re going to put these cars in reception at Brackley and Brixworth to remind us every single day how difficult it can be,” said Wolff.
“This is a character building season. The engine came along really well and I’m proud with what we achieved there.
“On the chassis side there were more bad moments than good ones, but the good ones were spectacular like a week ago.
“It made us feel how good it can be and now we’re just pushing forward for next year. It’s raw, it’s bad and it’s okay to feel like this but next year we’re back.”