Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff believes his side was the fastest of the “F2 pack” in Hungary after Max Verstappen inflicted a 33-second defeat on the opposition.
Lewis Hamilton was able to pip Verstappen by 0.003s to score a shock pole position – his first since December 2021 – on Saturday, but the reigning World Champion seized the lead at the first corner and advanced untroubled to a seventh consecutive victory.
With his run out of Turn 1 compromised, Hamilton lost further places to the McLaren duo, before relinquishing a position to the recovering Red Bull of Sergio Perez later on.
However, Hamilton’s W14 came on strong at the end to enable the Briton to get back past Oscar Piastri but he fell short of clinching a podium place, while George Russell recovered from a torrid qualifying to move up 12 places to sixth come the chequered flag.
Wolff, therefore, reckons Mercedes possessed the second quickest car in race trim around the Hungaroring but failed to maximise the pace potential of its car.
“I think we had the second quickest car today but the result doesn’t show it,” he contended.
“In theory we had the second quickest car and we didn’t monetise on it today, and that’s always disappointing. We have got to find out how we could have done that better.
“You can see that George [Russell] came to the front from a long way down and beating the Aston Martins and Ferraris. So we just need to analyse that.”
Aside from the start, Wolff says Mercedes’ failure to achieve a podium could be attributed to being too cautious in using up the tyre rubber at the beginning of each stint.
“We were too careful in bringing the tyres in,” he explained. “After the stops we lost a lot of time.
“It paid off towards the end of the stint, because we were miles quicker than everybody else but it’s always a balance and I believe the balance was a little bit too much in terms of bringing them in.”
Although the field spread was compact in qualifying with the top 10 only separated by 0.5s, Verstappen was in a league of his own out front in Sunday’s 70-lap affair.
The Dutchman’s ninth triumph of 2023 delivered Red Bull’s 12th consecutive victory, setting a new record for the most consecutive wins by a team in F1 history.
Wolff claims Mercedes’ pace was “quick in terms of the rest of the world” but concedes “the F1 car won by 34 seconds”.
He added: “We can talk each other up and say we could have been or would have been second, but in a way that is irrelevant because you have a car in front that is 34 seconds clear and probably he was cruising for a long time.
“That’s the bitter reality. But as I said before, it is a meritocracy and as long as you are moving within the regulations then you have overall just done a better job and we need to acknowledge that.”