Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has admitted that last weekend’s performance at the Brazilian Grand Prix was a “nasty surprise” but that every team has endured one this season.
The Silver Arrows were woeful at Interlagos, with the W14 having looked weak in every session.
Lewis Hamilton was forced to settle for eighth in the race, whilst George Russell retired due to concerns with his power unit; however, by the time he retired he’d already fallen outside the top-10.
Mercedes just seemed to lack both one-lap pace and race pace, with tyre degradation having also been a monumental issue.
This is usually the Brackley-based side’s strength, rather than their weakness.
Their poor weekend has seen their advantage over Ferrari reduce to just 20 points, meaning the fight for second in the Constructors’ Championship is likely to go down to the wire in Abu Dhabi.
Wolff slammed the team’s performance in Brazil as “inexcusable”, although he also pointed out that “even Red Bull” have endured at least one poor Grand Prix this year.
“When I look at our competitors, even between the cars, even Red Bull doesn’t get things wrong often and in Singapore the car wasn’t competitive,” Wolff said, as reported by Motorsport Week.
“Aston, within one week went from being outside of the points to having a solid podium. McLaren, in the first part of the season was not making it out of Q1 sometimes. Now it’s hunting Max [Verstappen].
“It is sometimes a nasty surprise for all of us. We got it probably today as bad as some of the other teams got it.”
Mercedes’ Brazilian GP shocker has given Wolff the evidence he needs that the side are doing the right thing by introducing another new concept in 2024.
The team boss admitted after the race that the current situation with the W14 “feels horrible” for everyone in the squad but that starting fresh on the W14 “is right”.
“At least we have no expectations, or at least we know it confirms that a trajectory of changing fundamentally is right,” Wolff noted.
“Last year we came out of the Interlagos weekend absolutely on top and demolishing your competition on Saturday and Sunday and that was like ‘are we doing the right thing by continuing with the chassis that we have?’
“This is pretty clear. It feels horrible for the whole team. At least we can start the new season and concentrate on the new car.”