Toto Wolff makes ‘weird’ Lewis Hamilton comment when reflecting on 2023 season

Lewis Hamilton commits to Mercedes until 2025

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says the United States Grand Prix was the team’s best race of the season – despite Lewis Hamilton being disqualified after the race. The Austrian accepts it is “weird” to pick the race in Austin as their best of 2023 after Hamilton was stripped of his P2 finish.

The British driver was disqualified due to excessive wear on his skid block, which is a plank on the bottom of the car ensuring it sticks to the minimum ride height. The FIA said the rule breach, which also impacted Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, was “probably a result of the unique combination of the bumpy track and the Sprint race schedule that minimised the time to set up and check the car before the race”.

At the time, Wolff admitted: “Others got it right where we got it wrong and there’s no wiggle room in the rules. We need to take it on the chin.” And now, with the season over, he says it was the Silver Arrows’ best weekend of a difficult year.

Despite seven-time world champion Hamilton losing his points from the race, he qualified P3 for the Saturday Sprint race and finished second in that. George Russell started, and ended, in eighth in the Sprint while he crossed the line in fifth in Sunday’s Grand Prix.

And Wolff explained to Mercedes’ YouTube channel: “This might sound weird because we got disqualified, but Austin. We brought an upgrade package that worked, the car was performing well and we were hunting down the leader.

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“You could say, ‘Well, you were disqualified for a car that was too low’, but the genuine performance was there and that was an enjoyable weekend. I’ve always said that I’d rather have a fast car that we haven’t tuned in the right way.

“And obviously, you need to finish. But that was the [best] weekend overall, seeing the correlation between the wind tunnel and the track was good.”

Mercedes ultimately ended the season three points ahead of Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship to clinch second behind the ultra-dominant Red Bull but they suffered a winless year despite their eight podiums. Hamilton proved superior to team-mate George Russell with six podium finishes to his countryman’s two, ending 59 points clear in the drivers’ standings.

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Hamilton said after finishing P9 in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: “Pretty bad, pretty bad – it couldn’t really be much worse. It’s not been a great year in general. There’s not a lot to take from the year in general. The fact that I survived it, probably that’s about it.

“For Red Bull to win by 17 seconds in the end, and they haven’t even developed their car since August, is definitely a concern. We’ve learnt a lot about the car and it’s just down to the team now. They know what they need to do, whether or not we’ll get there, we’ll see.”

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