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Toto Wolff Left Fuming With Mercedes' French GP Performance

Toto Wolff Left Fuming With Mercedes' French GP Performance
By Eoin Harrington

With Mercedes bringing extensive upgrades to the French Grand Prix this weekend, team principal Toto Wolff would have been hoping for a big return, as the Silver Arrows seek to close the gap to Red Bull and Ferrari out front.

As it turned out, they appear to fallen even further behind. Lewis Hamilton qualified P4, but he was almost a full second off the rapid pace of polesitter Charles Leclerc. It likely would have been P5 for Hamilton if Ferrari had chosen to run Carlos Sainz in the final segment, but the Spaniard was anticipating a grid penalty and chose not to set a fast time.

With George Russell qualifying in sixth behind the McLaren of Lando Norris, it was an underwhelming performance for Mercedes, and Toto Wolff was unhappy with the new car, which he said was simply 'not quick enough'.

'Not good enough' - Toto Wolff on Mercedes upgrades at Paul Ricard

Mercedes have not been their former selves during the 2022 season. After winning the last eight constructors' championships, they have been comfortably behind Red Bull and the rejuvenated Ferrari in the championship. Lewis Hamilton endured nightmare weekends in Jeddah and Imola, and they have now gone 12 races without a win.

The last two major upgrade packages from Mercedes brought improved performance in Barcelona and Silverstone, and Hamilton himself was among those who thought the team could close the gap to the frontrunning Verstappen and Leclerc at this weekend's French Grand Prix.

As it turned out, they underperformed dramatically, with Lando Norris in the McLaren managing to split the two Mercs on the grid.

Speaking to Sky F1 after qualifying, Toto Wolff was damning in his assessment of the upgraded Mercedes:

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I think we knew that once we get the tyres on and are driving the car in anger that we'll be there as a third force, like we've been all season.

But yeah, it's just not good enough.

You can see, when you're on the back foot, your expectations are on a certain level for the race weekend. If it doesn't come together, then a sort of freestyling starts and with us it was mainly experimenting with rear wing levels and also tyre temperatures.

In the end, the overall package is just not quick enough and we can see that.

On a weekend that began with so much hope for Mercedes, they are suddenly scrambling to stay ahead of the chasing pack.

It is just as well for Wolff that main man Lewis Hamilton is back to top form. Hamilton had struggled more than his young teammate George Russell in the early stages of the season, but contended for the win at the British Grand Prix and has taken P3 in the last three races.

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Wolff commended Hamilton's drive to P4 on Saturday in France, a result which seemed the limit of the car's capabilities:

[Lewis did] an immense job.

A great, great job, he has probably extracted more than the car has at the moment.

It's back to the drawing board for Mercedes, who are now left with more questions than answers. They will hope chaos on Sunday might allow them to snatch another podium but, on pace alone, it looks like a pipe dream.

SEE ALSO: Sebastian Vettel Hilariously Breaks Silence On McLaren Rumours

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