Despite two cars in the top three, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has bemoaned their performance ahead of the French Grand Prix as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen secured pole over Lewis Hamilton.
Mercedes were hoping for a strong weekend at Paul Ricard, after disastrous races in Monaco and Baku which saw them score just seven points in the championship.
Yet with Hamilton starting second, and his team-mate Valtteri Bottas in third, things looked to have turned around for the seven-time champions.
But Wolff was left perplexed after qualifying, with pace still proving an issue ahead of the race on Sunday.
“Difficult weekend, because we are lacking pace, that’s the truth,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.
“It looked much worse than at the end with where we ended up, but there’s not one part we are not looking at to improve our game”
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Verstappen is four points ahead of Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship with Red Bull leading the team standings by 26 points, the first time they’ve done so since 2013.
And despite a recent fall from grace for Mercedes, Wolff was adamant they relish the challenge, but admitted this level of threat is a ‘new level’.
“I think it’s fantastic that this has been thrown at us,” continued Wolff.
“We had seven great years, no year has ever been easy, but this one, that’s just a new level and that’s awesome.
“Red Bull say they’ve been running lower downforce on their car this weekend, with Christian Horner, Wolff’s Red Bull counterpart, explaining to Sky Sport what has changed.
“We’ve taken a bit of downforce out of the car, you can probably see by the size of the rear wing between us and Mercedes,” said Horner.
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