Toto Wolff makes claim about Lewis Hamilton challenging Max Verstappen in Austria

George Russell and Sir Lewis Hamilton have, between them, managed four consecutive podiums recently.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is still adamant that there is plenty of time to find despite some impressive showings of late.

Even after a horrible amount of bouncing in Monaco and Baku, the Silver Arrows managed to walk away with a podium through George Russell in the latter, having spent the seven races prior to that in danger of falling into the midfield fight.

Sir Lewis Hamilton has since appeared on the rostrum three races in a row, and the British Grand Prix saw the 37-year-old challenge the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz for the win.

In the end, Sergio Perez passed the Briton and ended second behind race winner Sainz, but a poor strategy call from Ferrari cost Leclerc, so Hamilton passed the Monegasque for the final spot on the podium.

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One week later, the seven-time champion took advantage of a reliability failure for Sainz to finish third once more so, while the Silver Arrows are perennially in a good spot to capitalise on misfortune in front of them, obtaining podiums on merit is still going to be a bit of a challenge.

“We’re missing a few tenths here and there,” Wolff told Sky Sports in Austria.

“I think we’ve halved the gap [to Red Bull and Ferrari] over the last few months, but we’re still third, somewhere right in the middle of nowhere.”

Russell was sent down the order with a penalty and a damaged front wing in Styria after hitting Sergio Perez off the start in Spielberg, and he recovered to fourth as the Mexican retired from the race.

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Hamilton had started the race eighth after crashing in qualifying, along with Russell, before spending much of the sprint stuck behind the Haas of Mick Schumacher.

Had Russell not been involved in contact or Hamilton had started higher, Wolff reckons they might have troubled Max Verstappen for second last weekend.

“If we had started in the top six, we probably could have held on to Max and not been so far away,” added the 50-year-old.

“We didn’t expect to be very competitive here because of the nature of the track. It wasn’t a happy place for us in the past so I’m okay, we just need to continue to grind away.”

Because of the “porpoising” and bouncing, Mercedes have generally thrived on racetracks that feature a smooth surface, so the French Grand Prix next weekend might be another strong one for the team that has won two of the three races held at Paul Ricard since its return in 2018.

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“I didn’t think we would be really great in Baku and Monaco, but Paul Ricard should be okay,” explained Wolff.

“It’s a smooth circuit, a little bit like Silverstone, fast corners, and on paper, at least, it looks like we can have a good performance there.”

The most pleasing thing for the Austrian is that his team are now beginning to see the gap to Ferrari and Red Bull slowly dissipate, and he is determined to get back to the front as soon as possible.

“We are starting to see that we’re chipping away performance from the leaders, which is important,” stated Wolff.

“And we find ourselves in a situation which we have always discussed, which is, one day, after eight consecutive titles, that series is going to break, and we want to make it a blip and not a longer cycle.”

Mercedes’ 27 points on Sunday was the most collected by any team after Sainz joined Perez on the list of non-finishers late on, as Leclerc took the win for the first time since Melbourne in round three.