Toto Wolff at peace with 2022 season: ‘Was our doing’, 2021 was not

Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff. Zandvoort September 2022. Credit: Alamy
Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff. Zandvoort September 2022. Credit: Alamy

Mercedes ended the 2022 campaign on a low, but Toto Wolff is fine with that since his team were in control, unlike in Abu Dhabi last year.

After their mighty showing in Brazil, George Russell winning the sprint and the Sao Paulo GP, with Lewis Hamilton making it a one-two in the latter, hopes were high that Mercedes could put on a show at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

That did not materialise though, Hamilton lining up P5 and Russell P6 for the final race of the season. Russell went on to finish P5, while Hamilton slowed and was forced to bring his W13 back to the garage for an early retirement.

It was a disappointing end to what has been an underwhelming season for Mercedes, their run of eight Constructors’ titles in succession coming to a screeching halt as they were forced to settle for P3 in the 2022 standings.

But when Wolff was asked how the pain of their poor 2022 compares to 2021, Wolff was clear that 2021 was worse.

As Hamilton lost the lead and Championship to Max Verstappen on the last lap of the Abu Dhabi GP, following a controversial Safety Car restart, Wolff says this was out of Mercedes’ hands and against his values, while in 2022, Mercedes were the architects of their own downfall.

“Last year, without any doubt, because last year was strong, and how it ended within a couple of seconds we knew that that’s it and it’s out of control, out of your hands,” Wolff told media including PlanetF1.

“And losing control, that was the first time since I was an adolescent. And in my sense of fairness, that was totally against the values, my values.

“But this year was not as peaky in terms of the emotions because we knew from the get-go at the beginning that the car was just not good enough.

“And I think we understood slowly but surely, we peel one layer of the onion and you think you’ve solved the problem, then is the next one and the next one and then we started to correlate where this car, that was really not a good one, where it could perform.

“And we tried to concentrate on these tracks, knowing that the more difficult ones like Abu Dhabi were in a way damage limitation.

“And I think we know so it was our doing you know, last year Abu Dhabi wasn’t our doing, this was our doing. We knew we got it wrong. We are conscious that others did a better job. And this is an absolute meritocracy how this season panned out. So that is okay.”

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

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