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Wolff feeling 'down' as rivals outpace Mercedes

Toro Wolff, Mercedes, Malaysian Grand Prix
© XPB 

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff found little to cheer on Sunday, despite Lewis Hamilton taking second place in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Even with Sebastian Vettel starting from the rear and his Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen failing to start at all, Valtteri Bottas could finish no higher than fifth place in Sepang. And Wolff reckoned that was a fair reflection of the team's pace this weekend.

"I'm just very down, I must say," he told Sky Sports F1 after the race. "You can't just look and say we've scored more points than Ferrari.

"If you look at the real pace today, it would have been P5. That is worrisome.

"We have lost so much pace this weekend," he added, sounding almost bewildered. "We were half a minute down on Ferrari. Probably if Max [Verstappen] would had pushed to the end we would have been half a minute down on Max."

The biggest concern for Wolff is that the team evidently doesn't have a clear idea what to do about its declining pace, compared to that its rivals.

"If we would know, it would be much easier," he sighed. "How can a car that is so fast on many circuits lose so much with a tyre that is overheating?

"There are differences from circuit to circuit with the temperature," he speculated. "Obviously the set-up and the general pattern of the car involved."

However the suggestion that it might be to do with the W08's rake - the angle of the underside of the car to the ground - was quickly dismissed. The Mercedes is well known for running a 'flat' car compared to the steeper design favoured by their rivals.

"That's been the case for long time, their philosophy of having a car with a steep rake," he responded, adding: "We didn't have that and won 19 races last year and won nine this year.

"We leave Malaysia with a lot of question marks," he admitted. "We need to find answers to them in the next days and weeks. To ensure that we keep moving forward, and racing at the front in the final quarter of this championship.

"At the moment it's just about keeping your calm, sticking your heads together and trying to analyse the data."

The team doesn't have very long to conduct that post-race analysis before next week's race in Japan.

"Let's see what happens in Suzuka. We have a couple of days to try and understand. Suzuka is completely different, completely different climate. By then we will know more.

"There were some question marks over Malaysia - we should have been quicker than we were - but Suzuka should be much more in the window," he insisted.

"It will be a priority for us to put two equally competitive cars on track next weekend. In simple words, there is a lot more work ahead of us if we want to come out on top by Abu Dhabi.

"It's just about putting the dots together now," he said, adding that he would enjoy the upsides of Sunday's race in due course. "Once I have digested the pace, in 24 hours I am going to think about the six points we have gained.

"[We] managed to score a good number of points and extend our lead in both championships. After a weekend where we have lacked a significant chunk of performance, we couldn't have imagined such a good outcome.

"[But] we cannot get distracted by the fact we got lucky again this weekend."

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