Toto Wolff reckons Lewis Hamilton’s lacklustre Chinese GP was largely down to the Formula 1 world champion not being “in the best place” throughout the weekend.
Hamilton has already labelled his fourth place in Shanghai as a “disaster”, admitting that his side of the Mercedes garage underperformed for much of the weekend.
Expanding on Hamilton’s lack of form, Mercedes team boss Wolff said he felt his star driver wasn’t quite on song in China, something he says can happen even to the very best in the business.
“Like the car, he was maybe not in the best place this weekend,” said Wolff.
“He’s the best driver in my opinion, but also the best ones have days when it’s just not 100 per cent. And if underneath you have a car that’s not performing as expected, and tyres that are not doing what you think they should do, and then the strategy goes against you…
“Actually we discussed that scenario this morning. Then everything just… goes in the wrong direction.”
Wolff added that Hamilton’s woes were emphasised by a huge swing in tyre performance, going from struggling to turn the Pirellis on in qualifying to overheating on both compounds during the race.
Yet rather than scrambling for a quick fix, he says the team will use the dominant pace is showed at the season-opener in Melbourne as a pointer to the car’s potential, and methodically come up with solutions.
“We were overheating the tyres,” he said. “We’re not in a good place. We’re bouncing between freezing and overheating.
“You can see when we hit the sweet spot like we did in Melbourne we are very fast, the lap pace of the car is very good. If you don’t hit the sweet spot, we didn’t hit is yesterday and today we’re just too slow.
“In Formula 1 there is never a quick fix. You can see how fast the picture can change. In testing and in Melbourne you could predict that we would run away with the championship because the car was so dominant. And here we go three races in, and we’re not.
“In my opinion, this is a great group of people. We just need to stick our heads together, stay calm, get the head down, and come up with solutions.
“[I have] huge confidence in the people. They’ve proved that in the past.”
Additional reporting by Adam Cooper