Mercedes garage ‘looked like someone dropped a Lego car’ after qualifying maneuvers, says Wolff – but refuses to blame drivers
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has praised his team for the repairs they carried out to the cars after Lewis Hamilton and George Russell crashed out of Q3 on Friday night – Wolff adding the incidents were “absolutely correct” given the renewed rhythm of money. Arrows.
Hamilton finished third in Q2 and looked set to challenge Ferrari and Red Bull in Friday’s qualifying which set the grid for the Sprint. But an oversteer snap saw Hamilton crash into the barriers at Turn 7. After the red flag was raised, Russell then crashed into the final corner – with both drivers emerging unscathed.
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“A lot of damage,” said team leader Wolff on Saturday morning. “I think we have two floors, two [gear]boxes we need to check, rear wing – lots of bits yesterday in the garage and early evening it really looked like someone had dropped a Lego car on the ground. And yes, the mechanics are doing a great job.
“On the damage, yes the car is quite injured, both cars are quite injured – floors, we have precautionary checks, changes for the gearboxes, a rear wing for George, lots of parts – it has some implications on the cost cap, but the most important thing is that the mechanics have to work around the clock. So hopefully we have a good car for the Sprint race to put us in a good position for tomorrow.
Mercedes later confirmed they had swapped Hamilton for the team’s spare chassis, while fitting different gearboxes to the two cars from their authorized pool – they also carried out repairs and swaps on the floors and fenders.
2022 Austrian GP qualifying: Red Bull Ring drama as TWO Mercedes crash out in third quarter
Wolff, however, said he was not upset his two drivers crashed in Q3. On the contrary, he was delighted that the cars and drivers were showing improved pace after Mercedes made a series of upgrades at the British Grand Prix last weekend.
“I think the car is still difficult to drive and now we can fight for the top positions, I’m really happy to see that they [can] offensive. And both carried [extra speed]; Lewis the front corner wore 10[km/h] more speed and does turn 6 and then he carries 10[km/h] more speed in 7 and did not make the corner! And the same a bit for George; you see he was ahead of his delta time and that was a particular strength of his race and he went too far,” explained the team principal.
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“Whether it’s wind or other conditions, I think the bottom line is that the car is harder to drive and it’s faster now – so for me that’s absolutely fine. The car is always tricky, and Austria – those corners are on the edge of carrying a lot of speed – so like I said before, I’d rather have a fast car and end up in the wall and learn more.
Hamilton lines up ninth, Russell fourth, for the next Sprint at the Red Bull Ring – FP2 first Saturday at 12:30 p.m. local time.