Lewis Hamilton bare 'minimum' target by Toto Wolff for Imola GP after sprint disaster

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff expects point-scoring positions to be the “minimum” from both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton for Sunday’s race in Imola. The 2022 season has been a humbling experience for Mercedes so far with the team unable to challenge for race wins unlike previous years.

Despite their struggles, Hamilton and Russell have a podium apiece and the latter came into this weekend behind only Charles Leclerc in the Drivers’ Championship. But that’s hardly been a reflection on their performance on track and Friday’s session was evidence just how far they are behind their rivals.

Russell and Hamilton struggled to get out of Q1 before qualifying 11th and 13th respectively. The sprint offered an opportunity to climb up the grid, but neither were able to do so with Hamilton dropping one place to 14th.

They now face a battle to finish inside the points on Sunday with Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, Haas and AlphaTauri all performing better than Mercedes. Wolff accepts that the W13 still isn’t ready to challenge further up the grid, but wants to see his two drivers move up into the points at the very least.

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He said: “What we saw today was a car without enough of a performance differential to the midfield cars to make the overtakes. If we were running in free air, the picture would be similar to previous races where we moved forward but behind the cars in a DRS train, the car didn’t have enough performance to make progress.

“Point-scoring needs to be the minimum for tomorrow and we know that isn’t anywhere near our expectations, so it’s a humbling experience. We understand our problems, we have a direction to unlock the potential that is within the car to bring us much closer to the front but at the moment, we don’t have the key.

“Therefore you just need to grind away and rely on the science and the physics. The passion and determination to improve is there in every team member.”

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