Toto Wolff offers excuse for Lewis Hamilton’s shocking performance

Sir Lewis Hamilton finished ninth in Singapore, while George Russell slumped to P14.

Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, says that his team learned some “tough lessons” at the Singapore Grand Prix last weekend as they walked away with just two points.

Sir Lewis Hamilton qualified third after a sensational display in changing conditions, while brake troubles sent George Russell out in the second phase as he ended up 11th.

That became a pit lane start for the 24-year-old after some changes were made outside of parc ferme conditions, so he had quite the task on his hands on race day.

Russell was involved in contact with Valtteri Bottas early on, but he looked as though he had a chance of making it back into the points when a Safety Car was deployed.

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Sadly for him, he was involved in another collision with Mick Schumacher late on, and he ended up in 14th.

Hamilton lost third off the start to Carlos Sainz and, in his haste to pass the Spaniard, locked up at Turn Seven, sailing off into the barrier.

Somewhat remarkably, he was able to continue with some damage to his front wing, but he later had a sideways moment while trying to leapfrog Sebastian Vettel.

That allowed Max Verstappen, who had endured a tumultuous weekend of his own, to get past, and Hamilton came across the line in ninth.

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Marina Bay was expected to suit Mercedes package, so it was a disappointing weekend for the Silver Arrows, who have now fallen 66 points behind Ferrari in the battle for second in the championship.

All Mercedes can do now is swallow the nasty pill, and move on to the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend as the championship enters its final five rounds.

“This season has given us several tough lessons – and today was another one,” said Wolff.

“We started from opposite ends of the grid with our two cars, but we couldn’t capitalise on the car’s race pace with either of them, when it came to an end result.

“Lewis was fighting for the podium for much of the race – but also battling a car balance that was on a knife edge today, in difficult conditions and on the bumpy surface. 

“After he locked up and damaged the wing, the stop to change tyres and the nose cost him position, then he lost out even more when cars ahead pitted under Safety Car and jumped ahead.

“That left him stuck in a train of cars on very similar aged tyres, and he couldn’t make up any ground.

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“The biggest frustration today is that we couldn’t build on the signs of competitive performance we saw in FP2 and in qualifying.

“Our championship fight for P2 has got significantly more difficult with this result, but the only thing to do is to collect ourselves and throw our energy into the next race in Suzuka to rebuild momentum.”

Sergio Perez won the race for Red Bull, ahead of the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.