Toto Wolff makes worrying Lewis Hamilton comment and disagrees with Mercedes engineer

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Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has admitted to doubts over whether Lewis Hamilton can win a record eighth F1 title this year. The Brit was third at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, finishing behind Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. And he’ll be hoping to clinch top spot when this weekend’s Saudi Arabian GP takes place.

Hamilton and Mercedes had a turbulent pre-season, encountering issues with their vehicle while still reeling from December’s dramatic F1 finale defeat to Max Verstappen and Red Bull.

However, they managed to put that adversity behind them by finishing third in Bahrain on Sunday afternoon.

Hamilton was fortunate that Verstappen and Sergio Perez were both forced to retire and admitted in the aftermath that he was pleased with the outcome of the race.

Some believe, however, that the 37-year-old will have his work cut out when it comes to moving ahead of Michael Schumacher in the history books.

And Wolff, who has recently sounded pessimistic about his star driver’s chances, has now added to the doubt.

When asked by BILD what he thinks is more realistic between petrol prices dropping in Germany or Hamilton winning another title first, he responded by saying: “Phew, hard to say: I don’t think the price of oil will change much in the future, but if OPEC agrees to open production, things can happen quickly.

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“That’s why I say: First, the price of fuel will go down again.”

Wolff also played down the chances of any big changes in Jeddah this weekend, insisting they need to come to a conclusion as to why they’re ‘lacking’ behind their rivals.

“We need to understand where we’re lacking in performance,” added the Austrian.

“The sooner we recognise this, the faster we will be.

“This is physics – and not mysticism. One issue that is definitely on our minds is speed on the long straights.

“But I don’t expect any enlightening insights from the second race in Saudi Arabia.”

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Wolff’s comments come after Mercedes trackside engineer Andrew Shovlin had wanted their F1 rivals that his team could pull off a series of ‘quick fixes’ for this weekend’s event.

“We just did a de-brief with the drivers and there is a lot of everything [wrong],” Shovlin told the F1 Nation podcast.

“There’s bouncing, the balance is poor, there is a lack of low-speed grip, we’re struggling on traction, the drivability could be better, the tyre warm-up is not good enough, the car is a bit on the heavy side.

“There’s a lot to improve which gives us some encouragement.

“I think we’ll get some easy gains, there’s some low-hanging fruit and what we’re hoping is that we can get those in the next race or two.

“The factory are primed to bring everything they can in the next few days.

“If we’ve got something useful to bring to Jeddah, we’ll make sure we get it on the car.”

Hamilton, meanwhile, fired shots at Red Bull in the aftermath of the Bahrain race by saying they’d done a ‘better job’ at getting their car right.

Speaking after Verstappen and Perez’s withdrawals, the Brit said: “Of course, we were fortunate, but ultimately we’ve done a better job – we have better reliability.

“I wouldn’t say that’s luck. I think this is the hard work of everyone.

“It’s such a long season. It’s going to be such a hard battle, but we love a challenge – I really do enjoy a challenge.

“It is a privilege for all of us to be able to work with large teams of people who are hungry, who are focused on a common goal.

“There’s no greater feeling when you all come together and you get a result like this.”

Hamilton also added: “I’ve lost world titles with just one point.

“Whilst we’re currently not necessarily – performance-wise – fighting with these guys [Ferrari], as I mentioned, this is not [just] damage limitation, but just a really, really great result.

“I think, in terms of our processes, in terms of squeezing absolutely everything out of the car, that’s what we did, for both drivers.

“And I think that’s a true showing of strength within.”



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