Austrian crashes proved costly for Mercedes

George Russell

The crash damage sustained by Mercedes in Qualifying for the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix cost the squad a third of the cost cap increase which had been agreed just hours earlier.

A meeting of the F1 Commission in Austria approved a 3.1 percent increase to the cost cap as leading teams struggled to spend below the $140 million limit.

However, such was the drama of Friday’s qualifying session at the Red Bull Ring, that Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted a fair chunk of that money has now already been spent.

“We spent a third of the additional gain that we have,” he confessed.

A mistake from Lewis Hamilton saw the seven-time champ overcorrect a slide at Turn 7, skating through the gravel trap to end his session in the tyre wall.

Team-mate George Russell fared no better, losing the back end of his W13 at the final corner before also impacting the barrier.

Asked about the similarities between the two crashes, which both appeared to be caused by mid-corner snap oversteer, Wolff suggested it’s a product of where the car currently is.

“It’s very rare that you see both drivers crashing out, especially the circumstances, they looked like synchronised swimmers,” he said.

“These corners are on a knife’s edge to carry a lot of speed.

“I’d rather have a quick car and end up in the wall and more learning.”

It left the team boss to suggest the floor of the garage “looked like somebody dropped a Lego car on the floor.”

The damage was extensive, with floors and wings among the laundry list of parts which needed to be repaired or replaced.

With cars both in parc ferme conditions, items had to be replaced with the same specification else face a penalty.

The crashes came on a weekend where Mercedes looked to have again made progress towards the lines of Red Bull and Ferrari.

However, Wolff accepts that there is more work to do, with the tribulations in Austria evidence of the ongoing task the squad has.

“I think that the car is still tricky to drive,” Wolff said.

“And now that we can actually fight for front positions, I’m really happen to see what they attack.

“Lewis, the corner before, was carrying 10km/h more speed, and made Turn 6, and then he’s carried 10 km/h more speed into Seven and didn’t make the corner.

“And the same a little bit for George; he saw that he was up on his delta time, and that was a particular strength of his previous runs, and it went to far.

“The summary is the car is tricky to drive, but it’s faster now, and for me that’s absolutely okay.”

Hamilton recovered by Sunday’s race to finished third, while Russell was one spot back in fourth place.

The 2022 Formula 1 season resumes with the French Grand Prix this weekend, with Free Practice 1 at 22:00 AEST on Friday.

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