Danica Patrick believes Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff looked “defeated, frustrated” and possibly “tired” after the Las Vegas Grand Prix, with a long season having taken its toll on the team.
Mercedes have not taken a victory all season long, though they currently hold on to second in the Constructors’ Championship by four points over Ferrari heading into the final round of the year in Abu Dhabi.
Wolff had taken umbrage with a journalist at the start of the Las Vegas weekend for raising concerns surrounding the event, before Lewis Hamilton and George Russell took seventh and eighth place respectively come the chequered flag.
Mercedes have had an up-and-down season in terms of form, but have seven podiums to show for their efforts between Hamilton and Russell.
Though for a team that have so often solely traded in winners’ silverware over the course of the past decade, a failure to win in Abu Dhabi would represent their first winless season since 2011.
When discussing the season while on punditry duties, former NASCAR and IndyCar driver Patrick feels that the demands of the lengthy 2023 season are now showing up on the Mercedes team principal.
“They’ve got so much better throughout the year, but nothing to show for it,” Patrick said on Sky Sports F1 after the race.
“You can sense, Toto looked defeated, frustrated, tired maybe. Christian [Horner] was talking about the timing of this event.
“It’s been a long year, everybody is wearing down, so I’m sure it’s feeling extra heavy to them now, especially when they have bad days – especially when they get glimmers of hope.”
It was an unfortunate weekend on a couple of fronts for Mercedes, with Hamilton having had contact with Oscar Piastri that caused a puncture on his car.
He took in a full lap of the track before pitting, which dropped him to the back of the field, before he was able to recover back to the points.
Russell, meanwhile, dropped from fourth to eighth when a five-second penalty was applied at the finish for his contact with Max Verstappen mid-race, for which the Briton took full responsibility.
Referencing Hamilton’s contact with Piastri, fellow Sky pundit Karun Chandhok believes both Hamilton and the McLaren driver suffered unlucky consequences after their tangle at Turn 14.
“I thought both he and Lewis were unfortunate,” Chandhok said.
“Both had amazing pace. When I watch back their races, Lewis lost 15 seconds on his in-lap with that puncture and was at the back of the queue.
“Oscar as well, was so fast towards the end on a hard tyre which was much older than other people’s; he was quicker than Ocon and Stroll.
“So I think without that incident and the time loss with the puncture, both he and Lewis wouldn’t have been far off Perez and Leclerc, and might have even been in that fight.”