July 29, 2019 / 4:14 AM / 4 months ago

Mercedes lick wounds after ‘Armageddon’ home race

HOCKENHEIM, Germany (Reuters) - Mercedes Formula One boss Toto Wolff spoke of Armageddon, and karma, on Sunday after a landmark home German Grand Prix left the dominant champions with only a sour taste.

Formula One F1 - German Grand Prix - Hockenheimring, Hockenheim, Germany - July 28, 2019 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton after having his front wing replaced during a pit stop in the race Srdjan Suki/Pool via REUTERS

The team went into the weekend celebrating 125 years of motorsport involvement, and their 200th start as a constructor, but there was little to toast at the end of a chaotic, rain-hit afternoon.

Mercedes scored just two points after Lewis Hamilton finished a scrappy 11th but was elevated two places thanks to penalties for the Alfa Romeo drivers while Valtteri Bottas crashed out.

It was their worst result since last year’s Austrian Grand Prix when neither car made it to the chequered flag.

“I do believe in karma and when you want to do particularly well things can go wrong,” said Wolff, whose team, until Sunday, had tasted defeat just once this season.

“Maybe you get distracted and maybe you are doing things differently to how you would normally do. I don’t know.

“At the end we will learn and summarise it rationally tomorrow.”

Mercedes had pulled out all the stops, with their cars painted in a special one-off livery, team-members dressed in 1950s-style kit and company bigwigs and Mercedes-Benz board members in attendance.

They were also being filmed for the second season of the Netflix documentary series ‘Drive to Survive’.

What had started so promisingly, with Hamilton on pole position, unravelled spectacularly after the Briton had seemed in control.

The 34-year-old, laid low by a flu-like bug, smashed a front wing and collected a penalty for a pitlane offence, while even the usually well-drilled Mercedes took nearly a minute to change his tyres and front wing.

Bottas crashed out while running fourth behind the slower Toro Rosso and Racing Point cars of Daniil Kvyat and Lance Stroll.

Wolff said the manner of the defeat was not more painful because of the significance of the weekend or the spotlight on his team.

“No, it is not embarrassing, it is motor racing and sometimes you’ve got to take a slap on the nose, on the chin as you say, and learn,” said the Austrian.

“We’ve got to think about what went wrong today and then if things come together, like Valtteri crashing out at the end which was not great, this ends in an Armageddon weekend for us.”

“We are still leading the championship and in a good position which must not be forgotten.”

Formula One F1 - German Grand Prix - Hockenheimring, Hockenheim, Germany - July 28, 2019 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in action ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas during the race REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Hamilton, who extended his advantage over Bottas to 41 points, said it had been his “worst day at the office for a long, long time.”

“I think it was like one domino after another and like snakes and ladders,” said Hamilton, who went into the weekend having won seven of this season’s 10 races.

“And I kept hitting the snakes today.”

Editing by Alan Baldwin/Toby Davis

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