Toto Wolff believes Mercedes had the faster race car than Ferrari at the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix but cannot understand how it turned things around after qualifying.

Ferrari out-paced Mercedes during on Saturday to seal a popular front-row lock-out on home soil at Monza, but Lewis Hamilton took advantage of an early spin for Sebastian Vettel before hunting down and passing polesitter Kimi Raikkonen to claim victory.

Hamilton’s record-equalling fifth win at Monza moved him 30 points clear of chief title rival Vettel, who recovered to fourth in his damaged Ferrari, while Valtteri Bottas completed the podium in third after running a long opening stint.

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Not only was Hamilton quicker than Raikkonen before he made his race-winning move, but he also did not suffer from the same degree of tyre blistering as the Finn, something which had previously been an area where Ferrari appeared to hold an advantage over Mercedes.

“It shows that the racing happens on Sunday. I’m very proud of the work the team have done - all the engine guys and the chassis guys from Spa to Monza,” Wolff said.

“We have understood the car better, we have understood the tyres better. We’ve added some performance and even if Saturday didn’t show it because we couldn’t qualify on pole I felt that we’ve done some good work over the last couple of days.

“I would have also said that if we hadn’t won today. Nevertheless, we didn’t have the quickest car but in the race we did. We had a reliable car, we had a car that was good on the tyres. There was no blistering on our tyres, unlike the Ferrari, and brilliant execution from both drivers and the team.”

When asked if he understood the performance swing between qualifying and the race, Wolff replied: “No I don’t understand it.

“The performance pattern has completely changed from Saturday to Sunday and I haven’t got an explanation yet. Maybe the clever people will know it but I think we need to analyse it.”

Wolff suggested one reason behind Mercedes’ stronger race performance could be down to the way Ferrari uses its engine modes, hinting the Scuderia might be able to gain more over one lap compared to a full-race distance.

“It looks like the performance they are able to deploy on one lap is maybe not something they can replicate throughout the race,” Wolff said.

“I don’t want to go any further because it could be read in a different way like I’m trying to find excuses. They certainly seemed to have a very good car in qualifying and a good car in the race but we haven’t seen Sebastian perform in a car without any damage.

“It just shows how fantastic this sport is that things bounce back and forth,” he added. “We are all oscillating between drama and glory, not only between race weekends but also between the days and this is the ingredient of a great championship. But I still think their package was extremely strong.”



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