Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has hit back at any suggestion Lewis Hamilton isn’t on the same page as the team following the Brit’s open criticism of the W14 during free practice. Hamilton and George Russell both struggled in free practice on Friday with the seven-time world champion more than half a second down on Fernando Alonso, who topped the timesheet.
Mercedes have stuck with the same ‘zeropod’ concept from last year’s car with a few tweaks. The issues of porpoising are no more, but they’re still lacking in pace and grip compared to their rivals.
And Hamilton appeared to take aim at Mercedes for going down a similar path to last year’s car, stating they are “a long way off”. “It is difficult for everyone and not where everyone in the team wants to be and not where they deserve to be,” he added.
“Everyone continues to work so hard and is so courageous and thoughtful but we are just on the wrong track. We have to graft away and try to get ourselves on the right track.” Saturday proved to be a much better outing for Mercedes with Hamilton showing good pace in the final free practice session.
But, with just one set of fresh softs available in Q3, Hamilton and George Russell were only able to put in one hot lap with the pair starting Sunday’s race in seventh and sixth respectively. Sky Sports reporter Ted Kravitz said that Hamilton’s comments during free practice indicated the Brit and the team were not “singing from the same hymn sheet”.
But Wolff refuted any suggestion that Hamilton wasn’t up for the fight to help Mercedes regain their place at the front of the grid. “He’s absolutely in the same choir,” Wolff said.
“We are super critical with ourselves and what we need to achieve. There is no such thing as a holy cow. We are looking at everything. Did we get it right with the concept? Should we have reacted earlier?
“We just need to get our heads together. We’re going to get his aid. He has, when compared to Alonso, another four years in him as a minimum so we just need to get it done.”
Hamilton is still yet to sign a new contract with Mercedes beyond this season, although it’s expected he will put pen to paper on a multi-year deal.
The 38-year-old has made no secret that he wants to win a record eighth world championship. And Wolff is willing to do “everything that’s needed” to give Hamilton the tools to make it happen.
“Absolutely, even if I need to push him around to win the eighth,” he said. “We’re going to do everything that’s needed.”
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