Toto Wolff – who holds a 33% stake in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team – apologised to Lewis Hamilton on Sunday, indicating that Mercedes had not given him a car capable of challenging his opponents.
Lewis Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, finished 13th and was lapped by Max Verstappen, who won the race ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.
Wolff said: “Hi Lewis, sorry for what you have needed to drive today. I know this is undriveable and not what we deserve to score as a result”.
Mercedes is ‘covering’ for Lewis Hamilton
After the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday, Wolff also said the W13 – which was built for the 2022 season – “simply doesn’t work”.
Even though Mercedes insisted Hamilton “deserved better” the Brit’s former teammate, 2016 champion Nico Rosberg, pointed out that his teammate George Russell placed 4th with the same car.
Rosberg believes Mercedes isn’t telling the whole “truth”. Speaking to Sky Sports, Rosberg said:
“Toto was playing the mental game, which is very smart on his behalf again, taking the blame themselves and really trying to support Lewis mentally”.
He said Mercedes “lifted Hamilton up and said that it wasn’t his doing, it’s on us”.
‘True skill level’ in question
Rosberg wasn’t alone in his assessment. F1 fans lashed out at Lewis Hamilton and Wolff’s apology on Sunday.
One fan, known only as Anthony, said: “Reminder that Michael Schumacher qualified on pole at Imola with the cucumber he drove in 1996”.
Another fan said: “Hello Russell got 4th! Maybe call a spade a spade and accept that [Lewis Hamilton] had a superb car and engine for almost a decade and it hid his true skill level”.
Hamilton ‘just can’t drive’
Simple peoples …. George can drive and ham can’t. Started 14th ended in 14th .. poor driving skill on the day. No need to cry now, but oh boy .. George is clearly a good driver!— simon.s.green (@simonsgreen1) April 25, 2022
Clearly it isn’t underivable though is it? Did George Russell not bring it home In fourth?— Ryan (@RyanG33A) April 24, 2022
i think Hamilton has lost the fire in his belly to fight and drive . Yes the car is not as good as it last year and has many issues but his team mate did so much better— Keith-15 (@Bidermann41) April 25, 2022