Toto Wolff was encouraged by his team’s best result of the season in the French Grand Prix, as Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both scored podium finishes. However, the Mercedes Team Principal made it clear that his team still had a lot of work to do to close the gap to the front-runners.
Mercedes scored their best result of the season at Paul Ricard, as Hamilton came home in second place ahead of Russell in third. And while Wolff admitted the result – the first double podium of the season for Mercedes – was a positive sign, he was unconvinced as to whether it was a fair reflection on the performance of their car.
“I think second and third is great, they are two steps on the podium and the most points [we could get],” said Wolff. “It’s encouraging we could score this result on Sunday but it’s still very difficult for us to pin down where [we would end up] if everyone finishes.
“You know, we had the pace to go with Perez, but Leclerc shunted out… and Sainz started from the back.
“I think it’s simply we’re just lacking performance on the single lap and we’re lacking performance on the initial stages of the stint so there’s something to understand, and it’s not a silver bullet but it’s a few topics in performance. Second and third is a good result but we need to work out how to win and there’s still a gap.”
2022 French Grand Prix: Hamilton praises ‘amazing’ P2 finish
Wolff, however, was full of praise for the performance of his drivers, suggesting that Hamilton and Russell are extracting more out of the W13 than the car can give. The Austrian also reserved special praise for Hamilton, applauding the attitude of the seven-time world champion.
“I think you are seeing a seven-time world champion in a car that is not good enough for a World Championship at the moment,” said Wolff. “He’s just pushing very hard and maximising what’s in the car and a faultless delivery. Clearly both of them are outperforming the car at the moment.
“When you’re fighting for a title, it’s 100% concentration to fight the other guy. This is different: we’re fighting the car at the moment, we’re trying to motivate and energise the team and the factory. [Lewis is] positive, even on days that are not so good like [Saturday].
2022 French Grand Prix: Russell celebrates podium finish
“The attitude is great and that’s something that has really grown with him over the years and it’s clearly one of the most important factors, that we have a seven-time world champion and a green up-and-coming driver and it’s a positive working [environment] together, challenging each other in the briefings, trying to work out what makes the car go quicker, being able to run different set-ups to try stuff, it’s really nice to see.”
When asked what we could expect from Mercedes at the Hungarian Grand Prix, meanwhile, Wolff said: “I have no idea. We came here [to Paul Ricard] with expectations to fight at the front, we didn’t, so I don’t know what to expect in Budapest.”