Mercedes’ Toto Wolff backed as Lewis Hamilton told he won’t win a race

F1 fans have backed up Toto Wolff but are increasingly fearful Lewis Hamilton will suffer another winless season. Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix left a lot of fans underwhelmed just one week after an uneventful race in Azerbaijan. Mercedes team principal Wolff called for F1 to “look at” how to improve the quality of racing after a dull afternoon in Baku. He added: “We need to look at how we can avoid just a boring race.”

And in a poll of Express Sport readers, a huge 75 per cent of those who voted sided with Wolff. That comes after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen eased to victory in Miami despite starting P9 and with team-mate Sergio Perez having started on pole.

Fernando Alonso, who started second, had predicted Verstappen would catch him by lap 25 but he was actually caught on the 14th. That came after Wolff had said in Azerbaijan: “There was no overtaking, even with a big pace difference. It made it not great entertainment. We have to analyse the weekend with the sprint format, whether there’s positives we can take out. At the end it all comes down to racing.

“It needs the tough battles and I think the highlight you could see on Saturday [in the sprint race] was George and Max being able to battle it out and on Sunday there was none of that. Even if you were within 0.2 seconds it was very difficult to overtake, nearly impossible to overtake unless the other driver makes a mistake.”

Red Bull are light years ahead of their nearest challengers Aston Martin, Mercedes and Ferrari. Third-placed Fernando Alonso finished 21 seconds off Perez in second while in Azerbaijan, Leclerc was nearly 20 seconds behind runner-up Verstappen in P3.

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As a result of Red Bull’s speed, most fans have little faith in Hamilton winning a race this year. The seven-time world champion has not topped the podium since December 2021 after last season enduring the first campaign of his career where he failed to manage at least one victory.

Over 50 per cent of nearly 3,200 fans voted that Hamilton will not win a single race in 2023, though surprisingly there was more support for the idea the Briton will win multiple races this season rather than just one. The 38-year-old was on the podium in Australia when he finished P2.

That is the joint-best finish he has managed since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, having also managed five second-places last year. And after a flat Miami race, Hamilton appeared to side with Wolff that races are becoming boring for spectators.

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Though he said it is on Mercedes to develop their car better, insisting: “It’s not my job to convince people to watch a sport. I’m not watching so it’s not boring for me. But as a fan watching, I can understand because it’s not as competitive as maybe the NFL or the NBA at the moment.

“As a sport they (F1) have tried to bring the teams closer but it never seems to work. All I can say is that we’re working as hard as we can to close up and get back and give them more of a fight.

“It’s just unfortunate that we still see the same sort of gaps between the teams. I don’t know what the solution is for the future, but we are going to have to adapt to these regulations. Otherwise it could be the same as it is now for years.”

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