Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says his team’s 2023 Formula 1 car doesn’t deserve to win after labelling the Brazilian Grand Prix as his “worst weekend in 13 years”.
Following two strong weekends in Austin and Mexico, Mercedes showed lacklustre form at Interlagos as both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell found themselves out of contention for a big result.
While both drivers made places at the start and after the red flag for a startline crash, they would soon fall down the order as Mercedes was plagued with high tyre wear.
This forced Mercedes to make an earlier stop than planned and trying to extend the following two stints that, together with the lack of pace, saw them drop to the backend of the top 10.
Hamilton managed to salvage an eighth place finish but Russell, after dropping back to 10th, retired due an overheating engine.
Wolff was left perplexed at how much Mercedes struggled in Brazil with a car that had scored podiums at the previous two races.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Wolff said: “Inexcusable performance. There are even no words for that. That car finished second last week and the week before. And whatever we did to it was horrible.
“Lewis survived out there. But, George, I can only feel for the two driving such a miserable thing.
“It shows how difficult the car is, it’s on a knife’s edge. We’ve got to develop that better for next year.
“Because it can’t be that within seven days, you’re finishing on the podium with probably one of the two quickest cars and then finish eighth.”
Mercedes’ pace woes were also hampered by its decision to run the car higher to generate more downforce that left Hamilton and Russell sitting ducks on the straights.
“I think straightline speed was one issue, but probably not the main factor,” said Wolff.
“The main factor was that we couldn’t go around the corners with a bigger wing with the pace we needed and we were killing the tyres, just eating them up within a few laps.
He added: “We are clearly not the world champions on sprint race weekends. We do some good work here on track to get it done.
“But still, that doesn’t explain what goes what went wrong. I mean, that car almost drove like on three wheels and not four.”
Mercedes is heading closer towards a first season without a victory since 2011, and after running Red Bull hard the past two rounds, Wolff called the German manufacturer’s performance as “unacceptable”.
“Swings [of performance] are on, but swings are not on from being almost quickest to being wherever we ended up…eighth,” he said, as quoted by Motorsport.com. “For me, personally, the worst weekend in 13 years.
“Totally baffling. At the same time unacceptable for all of us. We are a proper structure, solid team and that didn’t look like a solid team.
“Within three consecutive races you’re finishing a strong second, and both of them challenging Max, and then a week later you’re ending up nowhere. I believe this is just not on.”