Mercedes can finally say goodbye to 2022 and the W13, a car that decided to end the season the same way it started it back in Bahrain, badly.
After a few promising races, including, George Russell’s victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix, it was back to reality for the Silver Arrows at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Germans were back to comfortably being the third best side, after locking out the third row of the grid and being almost seven-tenths behind pole sitter Max Verstappen.
Sunday’s race wasn’t much better for the Brackley-based side, as George Russell finished fifth following a five-second time penalty for an unsafe release and Lewis Hamilton retired from the race.
Astonishingly, Hamilton suffered the team’s first technical retirement of the season, following what appeared to be a hydraulic issue after being stuck in seventh gear.
It marked the end of the seven-time World Champion’s worst season in F1, after failing to win a race for the first season in his career.
As well as this, he finished the lowest he ever has done in the Drivers’ Championship, after ending the year in sixth.
The W13 will be remembered by the team as their greatest challenge and their biggest ‘diva’, one that Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is planning to put in the team’s reception at both of their bases.
“We’re going to put this car in the reception in Brackley and Brixworth to remind us every single day how difficult it can be,” Wolff told reporters in Abu Dhabi.
The Austrian reflected after the race on what has been the hardest season for the team since their comeback to the sport in 2010, after designing a car that simply wasn’t “good enough”.
Wolff compared 2021 to 2022, with the Austrian adding that the 2021 outcome wasn’t in the Germans “hands”, whilst in 2022 the team simply “got it wrong”.
“Last year, without any doubt, because last year was strong, and how it ended within a couple of seconds we knew that that’s it and it’s out of control, out of your hands,” Wolff admitted.
“And losing control, that was the first time since I was an adolescent. And in my sense of fairness, that was totally against the values, my values.
“But this year was not as peaky in terms of the emotions because we knew from the get-go at the beginning that the car was just not good enough.
“And I think we understood slowly but surely, we peel one layer of the onion and you think you’ve solved the problem, then is the next one and the next one and then we started to correlate where this car, that was really not a good one, where it could perform.
“And we tried to concentrate on these tracks, knowing that the more difficult ones like Abu Dhabi were in a way damage limitation.
“And I think we know so it was our doing you know, last year Abu Dhabi wasn’t our doing, this was our doing.
“We knew we got it wrong. We are conscious that others did a better job. And this is an absolute meritocracy how this season panned out. So that is okay.”