Wolff on prowl to solve his motor mys­tery

Motor sport: Mercedes per­for­mance ques­tioned

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - SPORT -

Mercedes lead both the driv­ers’ and con­struc­tors’ cham­pi­onships but team ex­ec­u­tive Toto Wolff con­cedes they head to Ja­pan scratch­ing their heads over the in­con­sis­tency of their per­for­mances.

Lewis Hamil­ton fin­ished sec­ond at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sun­day to open up a 34-point lead on main ti­tle ri­val Se­bas­tian Vet­tel, who fin­ished fourth hav­ing started from the back of the grid.

Max Ver­stap­pen took the race win hav­ing passed pole-sit­ter Hamil­ton at the start of lap four and then pulling away from the Bri­ton with ease. Vet­tel, too, was quicker than his cham­pi­onship ad­ver­sary for much of the race. Hamil­ton had won in Sin­ga­pore af­ter Vet­tel, Ver­stap­pen and Kimi Raikko­nen crashed out at the start and he was for­tu­itous in Sepang when Vet­tel was un­able to set a time in qual­i­fy­ing due to engine trou­ble.

Now the teams head to Ja­pan with Wolff con­ced­ing all is not well at Mercedes de­spite lead­ing in 2017.

“Full credit to Red Bull and Ferrari for their per­for­mances, but we have un­der­per­formed in Sin­ga­pore and Kuala Lumpur – this is what we need to con­cen­trate on,” he said.

“I think we have built a points ad­van­tage to Ferrari in the last two races be­cause of them shunt­ing out in Sin­ga­pore and Se­bas­tian’s engine prob­lems here in qual­i­fy­ing.

“If they had per­formed as they should have we would not have in­creased our points ad­van­tage but lost many points to them.

“We need to un­der­stand why we un­der­per­form on cer­tain cir­cuits and in cer­tain am­bi­ent con­di­tions.

“I think we have a capri­cious car that has a very nar­row oper­at­ing win­dow with the tyres. Dip­ping in and out of the win­dow is the fun­da­men­tal story of 2017 for us.”

Wolff did also de­fend this sea­son’s Mercedes car, which has won nine of the 15 races of the year to date.

“We must not for­get we are talk­ing about the car that leads the con­struc­tors cham­pi­onship and leads the driv­ers’ cham­pi­onship, it is not a lame duck,” he added.

Mean­while Vet­tel in­sists he is con­fi­dent of reel­ing in Hamil­ton af­ter Ferrari proved they have the fastest car head­ing into the fi­nal five races.

He said: “I think we are quicker. It has been a dif­fi­cult week­end but nev­er­the­less the speed is promis­ing.”

“Capri­cious car that has a very nar­row oper­at­ing win­dow with the tyres”

Toto Wolff: Un­easy about in­con­sis­tent dis­plays

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