Toto Wolff makes Lewis Hamilton demand

Mercedes has only won two pole positions since the new aerodynamic rules went into effect at the beginning of 2022.

To make the most of the incredible race pace of the W14, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, according to Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, “need to qualify better.”

Since the new aerodynamic regulations were implemented last season, Mercedes has struggled greatly in qualifying; as a result, the Silver Arrows have only claimed two pole positions since the beginning of 2022.

Mercedes’s poor straight-line speed has been a major problem for Hamilton and Russell, as it frequently affects their qualifying results.

Hamilton acknowledged that he was losing two tenths of a second on the incredibly long start/finish straight during last weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.

Russell qualified two places behind Hamilton in eighth place at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Hamilton qualified sixth.

But Mercedes’ race pace was outstanding, as it has been for much of this season.

Particularly impressive on Sunday was Hamilton, who more than made up for his disqualification at the US Grand Prix by coming back to finish second.

But it was very difficult for him to move up to second as it was difficult to pass Daniel Ricciardo and Charles Leclerc.

Due to Mercedes’ slow straight-line speed, the 38-year-old lost several laps of free air because he had to be exactly on both drivers’ gearboxes coming out of the last turn in order to pass using DRS.

It’s hard to say if he would have been able to catch Max Verstappen if he had moved up to second earlier; Mercedes was just happy that the “car was strong.”

As pleased as Wolff was after the race though, he recognised that better qualifying performances are required to fight for victory.

“The smile on our face is because the car was strong,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.

“Once Lewis was in free air, we had so much margin in the medium. The lap times were good and [he got the] fastest lap at the end.

“It’s been a few weekends now where we say we ‘could have’ but didn’t. I think we need to qualify better. Probably with the straight-line speed, we wouldn’t have been so competitive against Max, but who knows, the pace is there.

“It was a brilliant, brilliant drive from Lewis. We have these oscillations in performance and we don’t really know sometimes if the tyres stick. Just a few degrees of track temperature and you are out of the window.”

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