F1: Can Lewis Hamilton do it again?
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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has branded the team’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix performance as ‘not acceptable’ after missing out on a golden opportunity to take control of the world championship as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen crashed out of the race.
The defending champions had a perfect opportunity after race leader Verstappen suffered a high-speed crash due to tyre failure in Baku with just five laps remaining.
The crash brought out the red flag, with race control opting to restart the race with just two laps left.
Lewis Hamilton, who took the restart in second, took the lead before accidentally hitting a button controlling the brakes heading into turn one, locking up and ending up down the escape route.
But Wolff and Hamilton were left “destroyed” as the seven-time world champion eventually finished P15, with teammate Valtteri Bottas P12.
“It just feels painful,” said Wolff. “You can say we had we had the hand almost close to the trophy because Max didn’t score.
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“The emotion, the frustration is just so overwhelming at the moment, I don’t know if I would have taken third or this result. I can’t even tell you.
“What I take away is we must bring our A-game to fight for this championship, and our car was not there all weekend. Operationally we just need to perform faultlessly and all of us haven’t done that the last two weekends.”
The result sees no change at the top of the driver’s standings, with both title protagonists unable to score points, however, Red Bull have stretched their legs at the top of the team’s standings by 26 points.
With Paul Ricard up next in two weeks’ time, Wolff added: “There is just so much we need to improve that I just want to get on it right now to make sure we are able to compete for this championship.
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“Because we can’t continue losing points like we did in Monaco and here. It’s just not acceptable, for all of us.
“What I take away is that we must bring our A-game to fight for this championship, and our car was not there all weekend.
“Operationally, we just need to perform faultlessly and all of us haven’t done that the last two weekends.
“We haven’t given the drivers a competitive package this week – far from it. It is not only the incident at the end that frustrates, it is overall not meeting our expectations all of us together – Lewis, the engineers, myself, everyone in the team.”
Hamilton described his error as “humbling” after leaving Baku empty-handed.
“It’s obviously a very painful experience,” he added.
“It was obviously a stroke of bad luck but Max had bad luck too and these sorts of things happen.
“Naturally, I’m sorry to all the team and we will just regroup and try and come back stronger.
“I think there are lots of positives to take from the weekend in terms of where we recovered to get back to. We’ll come back stronger.”
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