The team had enjoyed a relatively positive opening three races despite low expectations of their 2022 car, which came to bear at Imola as the grid for Sunday’s race was set.
Starting 11th and 13th in the 100km sprint, Russell and Hamilton made no progress with the veteran in fact losing a place to the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda to justify the fears surrounding the Silver Arrows.
“Today marks the low [point] of these first four races,” team boss Wolff said afterwards.
“It’s obvious we are not anywhere near the fight at the front. It would be pretty unrealistic to claim to have a slot among the frontrunners for the championship.”
Wolff had initially said before the weekend that his drivers had a “20 per cent chance” of lifting the title.
But the Austrian went further, describing the weekend as a “write-off” because the Mercedes was not quick enough to overtake the midfield runners Hamilton and Russell will come up against on Sunday.
For now, the reigning constructors’ champions continue to back their unique view of the new F1 rulebook, with their lack of sidepods a standout on the grid.
Wolff insisted there is more to come from this Mercedes concept, although he admitted that his engineers are yet to fully get to grips with why the car is off the pace.
“We have a direction where we know we can unlock the potential of the car but at the moment we haven’t got the key,” he added.
“So we have to continue to grind away and rely on the science and physics, before spiralling into some kind of negative momentum.”