Wolff: No regrets over Hamilton’s Spa grid penalty decision

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has no regrets about choosing the Belgian Grand Prix for Lewis Hamilton’s power unit grid penalties – but admits in hindsight that Monza would have been a better option.

Wolff: No regrets over Hamilton’s Spa grid penalty decision
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Toto Wolff, Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 Team
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 Team
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 Team
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Toto Wolff, Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid

Hamilton will start from the back row of the grid on Sunday at Spa after taking 55 grid-position penalties to maximise his power unit availability for the rest of the season.

He now has three fresh units at his disposal.

“At a certain stage we needed to take it,” said Wolff. “If you look at the gaps now it’s probably very difficult for him to recover to a good position.

“In hindsight if we would have known, which we didn’t, then Monza would have been a better choice.

“But I’m 100% convinced that given the parameters and information we had before Spa, taking the engine penalty here, taking it early, getting a new engine early into Lewis’s car, was the right decision.

“But, if it’s hot [in the race] it’s going to be very difficult for him to recover to a sensible position.” 

Admits to Spa tyre struggles

Wolff admitted that his team is struggling with tyre life this weekend in Belgium, and has not been able to get the supersoft to last at all.

Although Nico Rosberg took pole with that compound, he was only 0.15s faster than Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, which represented a much smaller gap than has been usual this season.

However, Rosberg won’t have to use the supersoft in the race as he got through Q2 on the soft.

“We seem to struggle more than other teams with overheating and blistering,” said Wolff. “As a consequence the normal one second gap from the soft to the supersoft doesn’t materialise, because the supersoft just gives up.

“The drivers said that after Turn 1 you could feel that the rear was going on the supersoft. Our performance on the soft was what we deem as normal, but we are not able to extract more from a softer tyre, because the tyre just gives up.”

No single reason

Wolff said there was no single reason why Mercedes was having problems this weekend.

“It is always a combination of all the factors, there is not one factor that makes it go out of control. The asphalt is a very abrasive asphalt, and it’s very ‘stoney’.

“That uses the tyre much more. It’s a bit of a vicious circle, because the more downforce you put on the car, the more you use the tyres, the better you put them in the window.

“We’ve had races where that’s given us a great benefit, such as Baku, for example. But then if all odds go against us, that particular tarmac, the heat, high energy corners, and the supersoft tyres, then the consequence can be like we saw today.

“I think when you look at the calendar in general, in 21 races you will never have a car that is perfect for all races. It is always a compromise, and trying to achieve the best possible performance on average.

“Maybe we have to live with that.”

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