Toto Wolff has described Mercedes’ defeat to Formula 1 rivals Red Bull at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as being given a “slap on the wrist”.

The German manufacturer had previously never been beaten at the Yas Marina Circuit in the V6 hybrid era it has dominated, but in Sunday’s finale Max Verstappen romped home to a comfortable and controlled second victory of the 2020 season.

Mercedes appeared to have no answer to Verstappen’s pace as the Dutchman pulled clear and was never challenged, finishing 15 seconds up the road from Valtteri Bottas at the flag, with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton holding off the second Red Bull of Alex Albon to complete the podium in third.

"You can see that everybody has weaknesses, and we weren't on our A game this weekend," Wolff said.

"That's simply a fact. Red Bull won fair and square. You can see that Albon also had a very good race, so they have a very good race car, and shows that when their car is in the right place, both drivers do a really good job.

"Probably Albon's pace was quicker than us by the end. They could have been well ahead, and even worse for us.

"We're leaving this race with a slap on the wrist. It wasn't a great weekend for us. It was a car that has never let us down all year, maybe apart from this last weekend.”

Hamilton, who was returning to action for Mercedes after missing the Sakhir Grand Prix due to contracting COVID-19, admitted he was not “100%” fit throughout the weekend in Abu Dhabi as he turned in a low-key drive on his way to third.

Asked whether he felt a fully fit Hamilton would have resulted in a different outcome  and seen Mercedes end a record-breaking year on a winning note, Wolff replied: “No. The answer is no.

“Because of course, he wasn’t 100%, and that’s always negative, but Red Bull, both cars were simply quicker than us this whole weekend. We never quite got it right.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was delighted his side was able to end Mercedes’ winning streak in Abu Dhabi and said the team’s performances was a demonstration of the progress it has made during the second half of the season.

“We’ve just been chipping away at the car and over the last third of the year we made genuine progress,” Horner explained.

“We were unlucky in Imola, Turkey didn’t go our way, the first Bahrain was decent and the second Bahrain we were unlucky.

“And then here in Abu Dhabi, to be the first team to beat Mercedes in a straight fight at this circuit since winning it ourselves in 2013, is a great achievement and gives the whole team a huge amount of energy as we head into what will be a very short winter.”

 

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