Wolff: “I think now it’s time to consolidate and decide what to do next year.”

Mercedes was again on the back of a dominating Red Bull in the Belgian Grand Prix qualifying session.

After showing strides of improvement at the Hungarian Grand Prix, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton’s high hopes of continuing their team’s recent improvement was a shortfall.

The Silver Arrows were shocked after yet a disappointing display by being 1.8 seconds off the pace during the qualifying session at Spa.

Such an abysmal performance is one that Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has described as ‘unacceptable’.

“You can’t be on pole three weeks before, albeit for very different conditions, different track, and then be 1.8 seconds off the pace at the next one,” Wolff explained.

“So there’s something which we totally don’t understand, or seem to get right.’

“Clearly, Red Bull is here in a league of their own, as the next Ferrari is eight-tenths off. But that is no consolation.”

“It’s for me the worst qualifying session that I had in 10 years. And irrespective of what positions we’re going to start tomorrow, being on pole the previous weekend and three weeks later being nowhere, it’s just not acceptable for ourselves.”

Mercedes’ disappointment was been offset by grid penalties suffered by drivers changing Power Unit elements.

Despite finishing seventh and eighth in the qualifying session, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell will start fourth and fifth respectively.

Wolff was particularly frustrated by Mercedes’ inability to comprehend the deficit.

“I mean, if we would understand, we could tune it,” he said. “But the car is draggy in a straight line. Lewis said it was like dragging a parachute behind him.

“It is unstable on the rear. It understeers through [Turns] eight and nine. It bounces through the high speed and gives no confidence.

“I mean, there is not a positive that I heard about how the car performs here this weekend and throughout the weekend. So I think now it’s time to consolidate and decide what to do next year.”