Toto Wolff: “It’s the worst qualifying session I’ve had in 10 years”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

After Belgian Grand Prix Qualifying, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says “it’s now time to consolidate and decide what we do next”.

After the Hungarian Grand Prix, where George Russell qualified on pole, Mercedes returned from the summer break with one of the worst quali performances of the year.

Lewis Hamilton qualified in P7, 1.8s adrift from Max Verstappen, while George Russell qualified in P8. Due to a plethora of engine related grid penalties they will start the race from P4 and P5 respectively, but Toto Wolff admits the result is catastrophic.

“You can’t be on pole three weeks before, albeit in very different conditions, a very different track, and then be 1.8 seconds off the pace at the next one,” the Austrian said.

“So there is something which we totally don’t understand. Clearly, Red Bull here is in a league of their own.

“What is the next Ferrari? Eight-tenths? [Carlos Sainz was 0.632s off]. But that is no consolation.

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“For me, it’s the worst qualifying session I’ve had in 10 years, irrespective of what positions we’re going to start tomorrow.

“Being on pole the previous race and then three weeks later being nowhere is not acceptable for ourselves.”

Wolff went on to say Mercedes doesn’t yet understand what caused such a drop in performance.

“If we would understand then we could tune it but the car is draggy on a straight line. Lewis said it’s like dragging a parachute behind him.

“It is unstable in the rear, it understeers through eight and nine, it bounces through the high speed and gives no confidence.

“There is not a positive I heard about how the car performs this weekend. It’s now time to consolidate and decide what we do next.”

Mercedes has so far had much better pace in the race than in quali, but Wolff doesn’t find that to be any consolation.

“This is the first time we haven’t been able to turn it around for qualifying.

“We’ve generally been much better in races than in qualifying so it will be interesting to see whether race performance tomorrow is better than quali performance.

“Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be flattered by a positive race result, whatever that may be.

“Some of the top guys are starting from the back, and for me, in my performance assessment of where we are, it plays a minor role,” the Austrian concluded.

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