By Philip Duncan, PA F1 Correspondent
Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was taunted by Red Bull in the wake of Sergio Perez’s dramatic win in Azerbaijan.
Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas both finished outside of the points following a performance Wolff branded as “unacceptable”.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton ran off at the opening bend in his pursuit of Perez, taking the chequered flag in 15th, while Bottas started 10th and finished a dismal 12th of 16.
Today was a humbling experience. We worked so hard to put ourselves back in the top 10 today after a rocky week here in Baku. We gave it our all today and a small error caused the brakes to switch off. Sorry to the team, we’ll come back stronger for the next race 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/oHy75S07L3
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) June 6, 2021
Max Verstappen, who crashed out from the lead with just five laps remaining following a tyre failure, remains four points ahead of Hamilton, while Red Bull extended their margin over Mercedes in the constructors’ championship to 26 points.
Wolff and Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner exchanged a series of off-track barbs in Baku. Indeed, Hamilton urged the two rival bosses to sort out their feud in the ring after Wolff branded Horner a “windbag”.
And Red Bull took aim at the Mercedes team principal by posting a picture of Perez celebrating, accompanied with the words: “That’s the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in the windbag”, crossing out the word wind.
— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) June 6, 2021
Wolff was furious with Mercedes’ display on the Caspian Sea and called on his team – which has won the past seven drivers’ and constructors’ championships – to bring their A-game to the Paul Ricard circuit for the French Grand Prix a week on Sunday in order to boost their title hopes.
Hamilton finished only seventh at the previous round in Monaco, while a confidence-shot Bottas has not scored for two races.
“There are a lot of things that are not running as smoothly as they have done in the past few years,” said Wolff.
“Operationally, we are not at our A-game, and we haven’t found the sweet spot of the car through qualifying and the race.
From to 🤩 to 😱 in seconds. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster this weekend, Team. pic.twitter.com/NQAAb8rkjJ
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) June 6, 2021
“There’s just so much that we need to improve, that I want to get on it right now after this call, in order to make sure that we are actually able to compete for this championship.
“You cannot continue losing points, like we’ve done in Monaco and here. It is just not acceptable for all of us.
“Everybody has to pick themselves up and I will do this and then we just need to get in motion to rectify the gaps that we have.
“We have 10 days to work on that between now and France and the championship is still wide open. It is very early days so we have to make sure the frustration disappears and satisfaction takes its place.”