‘Inspector Wolff’ gets busted

Mercedes' podium at the Australian Grand Prix was their first since George Russell's victory in Brazil last year.

Mercedes enjoyed a very solid weekend at the Australian Grand Prix, with seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton having claimed the Germans’ first podium of the 2023 F1 season.

The Brackley-based team have endured a challenging start to the second season of the new aerodynamic regulations, with the Silver Arrows having struggled for outright pace in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Following their bad start to the season, it was revealed that the Germans would be introducing a new concept, with the side’s revolutionary ‘zero sidepods’ set to be scrapped.

Given their struggles in the Middle East, their pace at the Albert Park Circuit would’ve come as a pleasant surprise, especially with both George Russell and Hamilton having qualified within four-tenths of polesitter Max Verstappen.

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Russell and Hamilton lined-up second and third on the grid in Melbourne, with the duo having overtaken Verstappen on the opening lap.

Russell, unfortunately, ended up retiring from the race after suffering a sudden power unit failure, something which is incredibly rare for a Mercedes engine.

Hamilton ultimately didn’t have the pace to remain ahead of Verstappen, with the Dutchman having breezed past the 38-year-old not long after he was overtaken in the first place.

Hamilton did hold on for second, though, to claim his and the team’s first rostrum of the season.

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The race on the whole was action-packed, with three red flags having been flown during the Grand Prix.

It was during one of the stoppages that Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was comically seen inspecting Red Bull’s RB19, with the clip having been turned into a meme on Instagram.

Wolff was overall very pleased with the Germans performance and believed that the side “maximised” the W14’s current potential, with the belief being that a “step forward” was made despite Russell’s disappointing retirement.

“We had strong pace today and it was really close with the Aston Martins and the Ferraris,” Wolff said in Mercedes’ press release.

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“That is good news for us, and I think we have made a step forward this weekend, both on one-lap and race pace.

“We maximised what we have, and we need to now comb through the data and continue to learn about the car. This will help bring the upgrade packages and that will be the key in challenging the leaders more often.

“It was unfortunate with George; he had a great stop from the lead and changed onto the hard tyre. It was absolutely the right call, and he would have been very much at the front. With the red flag his race was not so good anymore.

“He still could have made it to the front though, so he was unfortunate to have a Power Unit failure.”