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Wolff under fire from former team leader

28/12/2023

Former team boss Eddie Jordan and ex-driver David Coulthard delved into the 2023 and 2024 seasons on the Formula For Success podcast. The focus was on those who could challenge Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen. Ferrari and McLaren garnered optimistic remarks, whereas at Mercedes, team principal Toto Wolff faced particular scrutiny.

Jordan, a former team principal and owner of the Jordan Grand Prix team, has never been one to shy away from expressing his opinions. As an analyst, this remains true. “I’ve been highly critical of McLaren in the past, and I felt they deserved it,” says the 75-year-old Jordan. “I was furious about the split with Honda and how they allowed it to happen.” Honda then forged a partnership with Red Bull, resulting in notable successes.

McLaren’s Resurgence: A Promising Comeback

However, Jordan concedes that McLaren is on an upward trajectory. “To be honest, Zak (Brown) has steered the ship back on course, and they could be very strong in 2024. After the first six or seven races, they were nowhere, and we said McLaren could never replicate what Ron Dennis did there, but McLaren is getting back to that level,” noted the Irishman. “If you’re talking about teams that could someday challenge Red Bull Racing, I would almost place McLaren above Ferrari. They’ve finished strong and have two young and strong drivers, although that also applies to Ferrari. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a good fight next season.”

Mercedes: Chasing Glory Beyond Adversity

Coulthard doesn’t entirely align with McLaren as the primary challenger to Red Bull. “I believe they need an extra year to mature. I always feel Ferrari had the speed, but they haven’t always been able to showcase it in races,” explains the former Williams, McLaren, and Red Bull driver. “If they address this issue, I think they will be the biggest challenger to Red Bull, but of course, McLaren won’t stay idle either.”

In addition to McLaren and Ferrari, Mercedes, the second-ranked team from 2023 onwards, is also among the squads eager to contend with Red Bull. This comes despite Lewis Hamilton’s longstanding dominance in the sport; however, he hasn’t clinched a victory since late 2021 and ended a nineteen-month pole position drought in Hungary. “Lewis has showcased his speed, but he’s gone 33 races without a pole position. We never expected that. Aside from Max’s dominance, we know how good Lewis, a seven-time world champion, was, is, and will continue to be, but the car was not up to par,” stated Jordan.

Wolff’s Accountability Amid Team Turmoil

The former team owner is disappointed with Wolff’s demeanor during this challenging period. “Toto (Wolff) was a bit arrogant at the start of the season, and I’m glad he’s now a bit more circumspect about it,” shares Jordan regarding the Austrian team principal, who consistently deflects blame, citing the team culture. “At the beginning of the season, he said the engineers made a mistake, but I also told him: listen, you’re the boss, and ultimately, you’re responsible. You should have said ‘we’ got things wrong.”

Wolff not only leads the Mercedes team but also holds a 33 percent stake. “He’s a crucial figure in the team, and we know how formidable this team used to be. If things go wrong, we all have to take responsibility,” said Jordan. “I don’t know what’s happening there, but people aren’t talking about Mercedes the way they used to. They’re rarely mentioned as title contenders for 2024. It seems evident that it’s going to be about Max again, and the focus is mainly on Ferrari and McLaren. It might be misleading because Lewis still has the determination to reclaim the world championship.”

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