Wolff: Mercedes have halved disadvantage to Ferrari and Red Bull

Are Mercedes back after a slow start in 2022? Toto Wolff believes that's the case after an impressive showing in Spain

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Toto Wolff believes Mercedes have significantly closed the gap to the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari after taking a step forward at the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix.

The Silver Arrows introduced a significant upgrade package for the W13 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and it certainly delivered.

George Russell finished third after leading the race at one point, while Lewis Hamilton battled back from a first-lap incident to finish fifth.

Wolff admits Mercedes were caught off guard by the new technical regulations, but he believes the team have taken a big step forward to catching the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari.

“We are literally learning by doing,” said Wolff to reporters. “These regulations have caught us off-guard, in a way, and step by step we’re understanding what we need to do in order to bring the performance back into the car.

“We’ve seen another big step this weekend, probably we halved the disadvantage to the front-runners. But still, there is lots of way to go in order to be right up there in the fight.”

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action during the Spanish Grand Prix Pool via REUTERS/Manu Fernandez

Wolff lauds Hamilton recovery

Hamilton‘s first lap incident with Kevin Magnussen resulted in a puncture, which forced the Mercedes driver to pit for a new set of soft tyres.

Despite there being no Safety Cars, Hamilton was able to climb all the way back to fifth, and Wolff believes that shows Mercedes had the fastest car in Spain.

“With Lewis we had probably the fastest race car today,” added Wolff. “It was 15 seconds behind at the end and he caught all the way up, at stages in the race he was the quickest.

“And that shows the potential that the car has.”

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and George Russell ahead of Spanish Grand Prix qualifying REUTERS/Nacho Doce

Late issues for Hamilton

It wasn’t all positive for Mercedes and Hamilton. The seven-time World Champion was asked to lift the throttle during the final laps in order to avoid overheating.

He did so, which resulted in Carlos Sainz beating him to fourth. Hamilton was heard over the radio asking if it was better to retire the car, which Wolff believes was understandable.

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“It’s always the call when you’ve basically lost the race to decide what’s the benefit of continuing,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.

“I think from the driver’s perspective you know that you are like, ‘That can’t be possible, I’m 50 seconds behind the leaders’. But it’s still available mileage.

“We never give up and at the end his race pace was stunning. He would have raced for the win.”

Adriano Boin
Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1 and Ferrari.
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