Toto Wolff says Mercedes need to take Lewis Hamilton’s disqualification from the United States Grand Prix “on the chin” although he believes they can find solace in their strong performance in Austin.
Mercedes brought a new floor for the weekend and it proved effective, especially for Hamilton, who qualified third for both the race and the Sprint – narrowly missing out on pole in qualifying to Charles Leclerc by 0.139s and to Max Verstappen in the Shootout by 0.069s.
The Briton showed a good turn of pace to finish second in both the Sprint and the race before he and Leclerc were disqualified from Sunday’s event after the planks on their cars were found not to be in compliance with the rules.
Speaking after the stewards made their ruling, Wolff said: “We can take a lot of positives from the car performance [on Sunday]. We hate coming so close to winning and falling short.
“But this is a circuit where only a few races ago we wouldn’t have performed well because of the fast, sweeping corners. The upgrade seems to have made the car happier in those areas and it is working well. Directionally, it’s a very good sign.
“Turning to the race result and the disqualification, set-up choices on a Sprint weekend are always a challenge with just one hour of free practice – and even more so at a bumpy circuit like COTA and running a new package.
“In the end, all of that doesn’t matter; others got it right where we got it wrong and there’s no wiggle room in the rules. We need to take it on the chin, do the learning, and come back stronger next weekend.”
Wolff revealed that Hamilton said he had “more confidence” as he could now “feel the rear” of the W14 from the start of Friday’s practice, and it showed as he finished just over two seconds behind Verstappen at the chequered flag.
When asked what he would say to the team before heading to Mexico, Wolff said: “Well, we are all in this together, so I use swear words but so did everybody else. But we need to take the positives, I hate losing races, and the whole team is in pain.
“But this is a circuit where a few races ago we wouldn’t have performed because it’s those fast-sweeping corners where we were miserable in Suzuka. We went well here, now we are going to a few tracks that should make the car happier.”