Toto Wolff says Mercedes’ pace in France is “a slap in the face”

© Jiri Krenek for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

After Mercedes qualified in P4 and P6 for the French Grand Prix, Toto Wolff says “expectation management is a bit of a thing this year”.

Although expectations were high for Mercedes’ performance at the French Grand Prix, the team was not as competitive as they expected in Qualifying.

“Expectation management is a bit of a thing this year because we were slowly but surely working our way back to the frontrunners,” the Austrian said.

“There were good signs in Silverstone, then we went to Austria, a track where we are normally not competitive at all and we could clearly see the signs why we were not competitive, but we were close.

“It’s a one-minute circuit and we were three-tenths off in quali, so that was acceptable.

“So we brought a nice update package to Paul Ricard, the track is smooth, off we go, and boom – no performance – and we can’t figure out what went wrong.”

Wolff then explained the experiments Mercedes was doing across the free practice sessions.

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“We experimented with rear wings, from almost the biggest we have, which Lewis described as dragging a parachute behind him, to a smaller version which makes us lose too much speed in the corners.

“Then we were experimenting with tyre temperatures, and you could see it [the gap] went from seven-tenths to 1.2 seconds so that is a bit of an outlier.

“If you had told me we would be ending up between seven-tenths and… how much are we off?

After being told Lewis was 0.9s off, Wolff said:

“Yeah, that’s a bit of a slap in the face.”

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