'Angry' Wolff and 'humbled' Hamilton say Mercedes must improve

·3-min read
In a corner: Lewis Hamilton was chasing the Red Bulls all weekend in his Mercedes

After a second disastrous race, Mercedes has been left agonising over its biggest crisis since it began dominating Formula One.

For the first time since the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix, Mercedes failed to pick up a point on Sunday as Valtteri Bottas limped in 12th in Azerbaijan while reigning champion Lewis Hamilton crawled home 15th. In the previous race, in Monaco on May 23, Hamilton was seventh and Bottas did not finish.

"We can't continue losing points like we did in Monaco and here. It's just not acceptable, for all of us," team principal Toto Wolff said on Sunday.

Despite their lack of speed compared to Red Bull, Mercedes only missed out on victory in Baku because of a slow pit stop and a braking error by Hamilton when he was trying to regain first place at the end.

Red Bull dominated. Their Mexican driver Sergio Perez won after his team-mate Max Verstappen crashed when a tyre blew out while he was leading with five laps to go.

That halted racing and when it restarted, Hamilton was on the front row and in a position to reclaim the championship lead from Dutchman Verstappen, but the Briton locked up his tyres on the first corner and the chance was gone.

"A humbling experience," said Hamilton on the team website. "It's one of the toughest moments I've had for a while -- one moment we had all the points and the next we had none but for sure, we'll regroup and come back."

Wolff was visibly more emotional than usual in a video press conference after he race.

He said that he and Hamilton were both "destroyed".

- 'So strong and so angry' -

"It's really painful," Wolff said. "We had one hand on the trophy and Max was not scoring any points.

"It is not only the incident at the end that frustrates, it is overall not meeting our expectations, all of us together - Lewis, the engineers, myself, everyone in the team.

"It's the frustration that dominates. For him, victory was so close and then it was gone. For me, as a leader, we just have to be the best we can be."

"In Monaco and here we didn't have a car that was competitive, full stop. We have underlying issues -- we are not getting the car in a happy window for the tyres. We know the deficit and we know we have gaps which we simply have to overcome," Wolff said.

"There's just so much we need to improve that I just want to get on it right now to make sure we are able to compete for this championship. Because we can't continue losing points like we did in Monaco and here. It's just not acceptable, for all of us."

Bottas was also frustrated after Baku.

"Today in the race I was lacking pace," the Finn told the team website. "I was trying everything I could but something just wasn't right with the car for me this weekend. We need to work hard to figure out why and move on quickly from this."

Hamilton and Mercedes were leading the drivers' and constructors' rankings at the end of the Spanish Grand Prix, the fourth round of the season at the beginning of May. One month and two races later, the situation has changed.

The seven-time world champion, who had a 14-point lead over Verstappen, is now four points behind and his team, which led by 29 points, are 26 points behind Red Bull with 17 rounds still left.

The next race is in France where practice starts on June 18 for the race on June 20.

"We have ten days," said Wolff. "The championship is very, very open, it's only the beginning. We have to make sure that the frustration passes and that the satisfaction comes."


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