Toto Wolff expected fierce response from Lewis Hamilton after FIA robbery

2022 was Mercedes' worst campaign by some margin since the start of the hybrid era in 2014.

It has truly been a year to forget for Mercedes and all the German’s employees at both Brackley and Brixworth, with the side having endured a campaign so difficult that they could never have predicted it.

Since the beginning of the hybrid era, it has been a common theme for the Silver Arrows to dominate, considering that they won every Constructors’ Championship from 2014-2021 and every Drivers’ Championship from 2014-2020.

2022 has been a drastically different story, with the side having ended the year third in the Constructors’ and fourth and sixth in the Drivers’ Championship.

The Silver Arrows have claimed one win all year, and it wasn’t even Lewis Hamilton who claimed it.

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Hamilton was highly expected to come into this season with a fire and hunger in his stomach, after he had an unprecedented eighth crown taken away from him through a ‘human error’.

It’s been quite the opposite for Hamilton, who’s spent the year battling for a podium at best, whilst commonly just a top five.

That isn’t necessarily his fault, though, with the Germans having designed a woeful car.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff fully accepts that the team didn’t give the seven-time World Champion a “good enough car”, one which has made the season incredibly “difficult for him”.

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“We expected a world champion, that has had a world title taken away from him, to come in and try to smash everybody,” admitted Wolff.

“But we didn’t give him a good enough car to do that, and he’s held us up at times, the energy level when it was down, up there in the briefing room on days when it was difficult for him.”

Hamilton not only achieved his lowest position in the standings, but he also saw his record for having won a race every year since his debut end.

Wolff, though, doesn’t think Hamilton’s 15-yearlong record or 23-race winless streak particularly bothers the 37-year-old, with the year having been about developing the car and building a relationship with George Russell.

“That particular record, I don’t think it matters a lot,” said Wolff.

“It is more about helping to set the sails for next season, and the partnership with George was really good, together they developed the car.

“For me, knowing him for 10 years on the personal side, from a human side, he has been exceptional, better than all the performances he had in the car.

“For me, his attitude and mindset this year were outstanding.”

It was Russell, in fact, who claimed Mercedes’ only win of the year and their only pole, highlighting what has been a very impressive season for the former Williams driver.

Remarkably, Russell also became just the third team-mate to finish higher than Hamilton in the standings, joining Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg in a very exclusive club.

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Whilst this is a brilliant achievement for the 24-year-old, Wolff labels it as “irrelevant”, due to his side not “racing for a world championship”.

“They are not racing for a world championship,” stated Wolff.

“They haven’t raced for victories, apart from Brazil, so I don’t think for either of the two it matters that they finish second, third, fourth or fifth.”