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It was Armageddon and karma: Mercedes boss Toto Wolff

Mercedes lick wounds after their landmark home GP ends disastrously

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.

The team went into the weekend celebrating 125 years of motorsport involvement and their 200th start as constructors, 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 both the Alfa Romeo drivers while Valtteri Bottas crashed out.

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

"Many drivers crashed," said Wolff.

"Overall, for us, it was a bad day and, for the drivers, it was a bad day, it cannot go much worse. This shows that you shouldn't fool around with the staff. You should concentrate on the job.

"We are not superstitious, but we believe in karma and it's a day to learn."

He added: "We had a decent start with good pace. Then we had incidents, crashing out in tricky conditions, the wrong calls."

Asked about Hamilton's crash and pit-stop, he said: "It was unfortunate, crashing right at the entry of the pit lane.

"You are not prepared. We made the wrong calls afterwards - it was all coming together. Many others made the same mistake. (Charles) Leclerc crashed and many others crashed."

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 pit-lane 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."

WORST DAY

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".

Hamilton, speaking before being promoted in the standings, said: "It was my worst day in the office for a long, long time.

"You live and you learn. I don't know what happened today, but I'm glad it's over and there are more races ahead so we can focus on regrouping and coming back strong."

He accepted his share of the blame for the team's worst result since Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collided on the first lap of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, where Max Verstappen won on his debut with Red Bull.

"Me hitting the wall not helpful and them putting on the slick tyres not helpful either," Hamilton said.

"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." - AFP, REUTERS

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