Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has revealed that the Silver Arrows were forced to alter their cars’ set-up ahead of qualifying.
Speaking after the US Grand Prix – which Sir Lewis Hamilton finished in P2, behind Championship leader Max Verstappen – Wolff revealed that Mercedes had to raise the floor of their car ahead of qualifying to ensure it didn’t break during the race.
Speaking to the Dutch edition of Motorsport.com, the Austrian said the change was necessary to avoid a “bloodbath”.
“The bottom of our car had quite a lot of contact with the ground. This will break the car,” Wolff said.
“We have made a number of adjustments so that the car does not suffer major damage and we can finish the race.”
He admitted that this adjustment cost Mercedes some lap time around COTA, but said “it’s probably necessary to finish at all.”
After qualifying, Wolff had opted not to reveal this set-up change and said they simply “fell behind” Red Bull after Friday.
“We fell behind after Friday. We don’t know yet what the cause is,” Wolff told reporters on Saturday.
“I can’t explain why we can’t live up to our expectations here yet.
“In terms of performance, the Red Bulls now seem very strong and on paper their cars are ahead. But it’s about Sunday.
“Anything can happen there. It can go in a completely different direction.
“Although I often say that the result of qualifying is often the result of the race, thank goodness that is not the case.
“We can certainly strike back, hopefully with Valtteri coming back to the front as well,” he concluded.
Following Verstappen’s masterclass in the 2021 US Grand Prix, the Dutchman now has a 12-point lead over Hamilton in the Championship with just five races of the season remaining.