Toto Wolff revealed Mercedes will ‘take a chainsaw’ to Lewis Hamilton and George Russell’s car ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix this weekend.
The Austrian admitted he is set to instruct his engineers ‘to cut the rear wing to bits’ ahead of the next race. His comments after the Silver Arrows were notably the third-fastest team behind Ferrari and Red Bull in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
Hamilton qualified fifth while his teammate Russell started ninth but they finished third and fourth respectively after both Red Bull cars were forced to retire. The result meant Hamilton secured an unlikely podium, but Wolff is under no illusions.
“It's easier to shed drag off the car because you simply take a chainsaw and cut the rear wing to bits and so that is what we will be doing for Jeddah,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1. “I think we were probably over-winged.
“We had too much drag and that is just because we are lacking parts at the moment and hopefully we can remedy that. It is half or a little bit more maybe of the top speed disadvantage but we need to really leave no stone unturned on the power unit side.
“I think at the moment we are five and six, third on the road and we are trying to recover ground but it's not going to come from one day to another.”
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Hamilton struggled throughout the race and benefitted immensely from the double-retirement of arch-rivals Red Bull, and the seven-time world champion is hoping for imminent upgrades to his car. However, he understands it will not be a quick turnaround for the German manufacturers.
“I think it was such a difficult race, we've struggled throughout practice,” Hamilton said. “This was the best result we could have got.
“Of course, it was unfortunate for the other two drivers but we did the best we could and we’re grateful for these points.”
Russell echoed the sentiment of his teammate, suggesting Ferrari and Red Bull are ‘a long way ahead’. However, the Brit insisted there is ‘potential’ in the car.
“We came home with a P3 and P4 for the team which we would have definitely taken prior to the weekend so in a long championship, we can be pleased with how today went,” Russell said. “Considering we’re half a second behind in qualifying and probably the same, if not more, on race pace, it was a good damage limitation weekend.
“There’s a lot of potential in the car and we really need to dig down into the data and understand how to extract the performance. We recognise our rivals are a long way ahead of us, we know what the overall limitations of the car are, and we won’t settle until we have the chance of the win.”
The 22-race 2022 campaign continues this weekend with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on March 27.
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