Dark
Light
Dark
Light
Wolff Faces Brutal Reality of Mercedes' Slump

Wolff Faces Brutal Reality of Mercedes’ Slump

24/03/2024

Toto Wolff expresses his frustration with Mercedes’ poor start in 2024, hinting at a deep-seated need for improvement.

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff has confessed his desire to “hit himself” after the Melbourne race and the team’s extremely disappointing start to the 2024 season.

Mercedes sank to new lows at the Australian Grand Prix as both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell retired, leaving Mercedes fifth in the constructors’ standings after the first three races of the season.

Mercedes, with only one race win since the introduction of new rules in 2022, entered 2024 hopeful that a car overhaul would allow them to compete for victories this season.

Hamilton, a seven-time world champion who is set to leave Mercedes for Ferrari in 2025, retired due to an engine failure on lap 17 after qualifying only 11th, while Russell crashed in the penultimate lap chasing Fernando Alonso for sixth place.

“Hard to swallow, super hard,” Wolff admits.

“I’d be lying if I said I felt positive about the situation and optimistic at any point.”

“Just overcoming the negative thoughts and saying ‘we will turn this around’. Today, it’s very, very brutal.”

“We started this season believing this car was better than last year’s. Then, you look at last year [in Australia] where Leclerc retired and Sainz was fourth, McLaren was 17th, 18th or 19th, and now they’re 40 seconds ahead of us.”

“On one hand, I felt like hitting myself today. On the other hand, it’s proof that when things are done correctly, the situation can be turned around quite quickly and we continue to believe.”

“Right now, it’s a very difficult period.”

Wolff continues to question this W15.

“There were moments in the race where we lacked pace significantly. And then there were moments at the end when, comparing similar data, we were doing okay. It’s still not where we want to be.”

“You could see during the second stint, Fernando with the medium tires, we couldn’t get close. The lap times were a second off McLaren’s! Then suddenly, in the last stint, when we went for it, without worrying too much, the lap times were competitive. Not at Sainz’s level. But much better than McLaren’s. It’s baffling.”

Wolff was asked if he had considered his own position given Mercedes’ prolonged difficulties.

“As a member of this company, I have to be sure my contribution is positive and creative.”

“I would be the first to say, if someone has a better idea, to give it to me, because I want to get this team back on track as quickly as possible. And I’d be happy to give my opinion and see what that would look like or could be.”

“We have a physical problem, not a philosophical or organizational one. We haven’t swallowed a stupidity pill since 2021. It’s just that we don’t understand some of the car’s behaviors that, in the past, we always would have.”

“I look at myself in the mirror every day about everything I do, and if I think I should ask myself whether to stop, I would do it but that’s not how I feel right now.”

Wolff then explained that his situation can’t be compared to that of a football team manager, given his 33% stake in the team means he remains tied to Mercedes, whether he stays in his role or not.

“The big difference with football is that it’s not about the manager, it’s my job. I can’t just stop and be transferred to another team like Ferrari.”

“I don’t have that choice, which is also regrettable. I’m not an entrepreneur or an employee who says: ‘I’ve had enough of this’. I’m like on a hamster wheel that keeps turning and I can’t jump off.”

Wolff Faces Brutal Reality of Mercedes' Slump

Wolff Faces Brutal Reality of Mercedes’ Slump. Wolff Faces Brutal Reality of Mercedes’ Slump

Newsletter

Go toTop