Motor racing-Mercedes fear 'circus' crane operator exposed car secrets

Formula One F1 - Formula One F1 - Monaco Grand Prix - Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo, Monaco - May 27, 2023 Mercedes' George Russell during qualifying REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

MONACO (Reuters) - Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff joked that a Monaco Grand Prix crane operator must have been trained by the 'Cirque du Soleil' after Lewis Hamilton's car was lifted sky high following a crash in final practice.

More seriously, there was some concern the incident may have revealed to rivals secrets of the car's floor and upgraded aerodynamics.

"Whoever performed the crane has probably worked for Cirque du Soleil before," Wolff told reporters, before emphasising his support of marshals who are famed for their ability to remove cars quickly.

"I don’t even comprehend. The car was on the road. You could have put it on a truck... you’re showcasing a car to everyone in the world.

"That was suboptimum for us, to say the least," added the Austrian.

Mercedes have gone back to the drawing board with their under-performing car and Monaco was the debut of the revised version.

It should have been raced at Italy's Imola circuit last weekend but that race was cancelled due to devastating floods in the region.

Hamilton's Mercedes dangled alarmingly, tilted forwards and backwards and giving a clear shot of the underside.

The Red Bull of Checo Perez, which crashed later in qualifying, was also lifted away but with less exposure of the floor.

"They are all from Cirque du Soleil," said Wolff when asked about that operation. "Now I realise. Their car hangs straight. Ours was rear down."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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