Hamilton hit the barriers late in final practice on Saturday to trigger a red flag. As his W14 was recovered, it was raised several storeys high to allow photographers to capture the underbody design.

With engineers estimating that 60% of car performance is owed to the floor, following the 2022 shift to ground-effects, the underbody aerodynamics have been a particularly closely guarded secret.

Teams have specially fitted covers that cloak the floor of the car when they are recovered and hoisted onto flatbed trucks.

Now that rival team aerodynamicists have been able to see and can analyse the Mercedes, which has been heavily updated for Monaco, Wolff joked that circus company “Cirque du Soleil” must have been in town.

The Austrian said: “Well, whoever performed the crane has probably worked for Cirque du Soleil.

“Honestly, that 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.”

Mercedes W14 after a crash

Wolff did underline that he was making the comment in jest and praised the principality marshals, saying that “everybody is doing their best”.

When Sergio Perez crashed out in Q1 at Sainte Devote, his Red Bull was also lifted and its floor revealed.

Wolff noted that the RB19 had stayed flat when craned as opposed to the W14, which fell rearwards due to its weight bias from the point it was tethered.

He said: “They are all from Cirque du Solei. Their car hangs straight. Ours was rear down!”

The revised W14 clocked sixth and eighth in qualifying, with Hamilton pipping team-mate George Russell.

Wolff reckoned the performance of the upgrades had not thrown any surprises with how they ran in real-world conditions but acknowledged the team showing was “not good”.

He said: “Sixth and eighth is not good.

“Three tenths off pole [set by Max Verstappen] with both drivers having less than positive Q3s is solid. It’s actually OK.

“With Lewis and George, if you would have put the last lap together, we would have played the top six. Maybe the top four. That’s OK.”

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