At the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, after a late race restart, Lewis Hamilton suffered a tyre lock-up that ultimately led to him finishing the race in P15.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says him and Hamilton are “destroyed” by the result.
“Both of us are destroyed to be honest,” the Austrian said after the race.
“But it is for him, obviously, as a driver – it’s so close and then it’s all gone.”
Hamilton had the opportunity to regain his lead in the drivers’ championship, after Max Verstappen retired from the race due to a tyre puncture. However, the fateful lock-up prevented that from happening.
“It just feels painful. You can see we had the win, we had the hand almost close to the trophy because Max didn’t score.”
The lock-up happened because Lewis accidentally pushed Mercedes’ ‘magic button’, which basically shut down his front brakes. Wolff denies that Lewis made any mistakes.
“No, I think he had the position. I think the move was totally okay on the inside. I think that was a perfect start and the perfect move at the beginning.
“It can’t be called a mistake. It was just when Sergio came over, [Lewis] touched a button and the brake balance changed. The brake balance went all the way forward and ultimately the car couldn’t stop.
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“He just doesn’t make any mistakes. That is what you need to remember. I wouldn’t wish for anybody else to be in the car.”
Before the race restart a huge amount of smoke could be seen coming out of Hamilton’s brake ducts, but the Austrian denies it had anything to do with the lock-up.
“I don’t think that was the problem. I think it was more a simple, how can I say, finger problem.
“It was just that the brakes were not there, or were not set to the right position, and that is why he missed the braking point.
“But I don’t know. It’s just the emotion of frustration. It’s just so overwhelming at the moment. I would have taken third or this result.
Considering how close the 2021 championship is shaping up to be, Wolff says Mercedes needs to avoid making any mistakes in the future.
“From this year’s running, we just need to be the best. The best of us, the best that we have. Operationally, we just need to perform faultlessly and all of us haven’t done that the last two weekends.
“We still have our underlying issues, that we’re not getting off the start into the happy window of the tyres with the set-up.
“Also after the stops we make operational mistakes and we lose all the time that you can see today in the twisty old town and city. This is what happened in Monaco.
“It’s not a shocker now that the car that won three races is nowhere. It is not. We know the deficit, we’ve seen that in these particular parts of the tracks.
“We know that we have gaps that we just need to overcome. The 90 degree corners we’ve actually been quite competitive. it was all the twisty bits.
“You could see in the middle sector we were really close, it was quick on the straight but the middle sector was a total shocker.
“And we haven’t given the drivers a competitive package this weekend. Far from a competitive package.
“And that is the frustration. It’s not only the incident at the end [of the Azerbaijan GP] that frustrates, its overall not meeting our own expectations. All of us together, Lewis, engineers, myself, for everybody.
“What I take away is that we must bring our ‘A’ game to fight for this championship, and our car was not there all weekend.”
Ultimately, Wolff says Mercedes will regroup and work through its issues.
“We have four hours together on the plane now. Maybe we’ll drink. Maybe that’s not good to say on Sky, but we will drink!
“We have no doubt, this is a team that is so strong and so angry. We’ve got to transform the anger into positive force.
“We’re warriors and we’re going to come back,” concluded the Austrian.