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Wolff Reflects on F1 Discusses Antonelli Vasseur

Wolff Cautions on Mercedes’ Progress: ‘Not Linear’

22/06/2024

Toto Wolff tempers expectations on Mercedes F1’s future, while opening up about dynamics with Antonelli and Vasseur.

Two weeks ago in Canada, Mercedes F1 had by far its best weekend of the season: George Russell took pole position and finished third in the Grand Prix after contending for the victory for a long time. Lewis Hamilton also confirmed the team’s performance by finishing fourth, just behind his teammate.

Is the German team thus back at the forefront? Can it confirm this in Barcelona this weekend? These questions were posed to director Toto Wolff at a press conference in Montmelo.

“We have made very good progress since Imola. We have been able to add performance and have maintained this direction. And I think we were all a bit surprised by the potential on Sunday in Montreal. However, it was a very specific circuit. So, I hope that the performance will continue to improve so that we can compete with the leading drivers. But we know it is never linear.”

“Since Imola, we have made improvements at every race, to varying degrees. So, there are visible things that people talk about and others that are not. But these are improvements in aerodynamics and mechanics. And I would say that on the mechanical side, we have seen that the car is very good on bumps and curbs. The handling is very smooth. And I would say all these marginal gains have contributed to improving lap times.”

While no major developments have been brought by Mercedes F1 to Spain, Wolff asserts that the W15s are nonetheless equipped with some new features. The Austrian also responded to comments from Dr. Helmut Marko, the advisor to the Red Bull team, who stated that the front wings of the Silver Arrows were particularly (too?) flexible.

“We brought quite a few parts to this race, but perhaps not the most visible. So, I think that in this fight, you need to add performance at every Grand Prix. Even if it’s just a few milliseconds here and there, we’ve brought parts.”

“In Formula 1, everyone wants to draw conclusions and says, ‘I saw that front wing, those side fins, and those deflectors.’ Front wings play an important role today. That’s clear. Aero elasticity plays an important role, but so do the floors. I think it’s always a combination of these elements. You can have a front wing that flexes like a banana and passes the test, but the rest of the car does not perform correctly in the interaction. I think everyone is trying to push the boundaries and respect the regulations. And I think what we have managed to do in the last three races, especially on the right side, where we think we have made a big step, and all the aerodynamic elements that have arrived since, maybe we were just at the other end of what we should have done with the wings, the floors, and everything else.”

Wolff downplays speculation about Antonelli

The potential replacement of Lewis Hamilton by Kimi Antonelli in 2025 is becoming more apparent, although an official announcement is still forthcoming. Toto Wolff was reminded that the FIA is currently revising its regulations regarding the minimum age for F1 drivers. Does this imply anything about the Italian prospect, who some rumors suggest might replace Logan Sargeant at Williams mid-season?

“It means nothing. I think the FIA has chosen not to impose an age limit because it might accelerate the progression of young drivers if their performance is exceptional. It was more about changing something in the regulation of the World Motor Sport Council which, anyway, was previously at the discretion of the president. For us, it doesn’t make a big difference. Kimi is in F2, he tests with old F1 cars, he is learning, developing, making mistakes; that’s his current status. So, there was no need to rush him into a car.”

The Austrian executive also confirmed that we might see Antonelli in a Mercedes during free practice sessions later in the season.

“We could involve him in an FP1 session after he turns 18, which is after the summer break.”

A rivalry that has become “more intense” with Fred Vasseur

Since taking over as head of Scuderia Ferrari last year, Frederic Vasseur has become a direct rival of Toto Wolff in the world championship. The Austrian explains that while their friendship endures, competing at the highest level of motorsport every weekend inevitably changes their relationship somewhat.

“Fred and I have been friends since the early 2000s when he was setting up his Formula 3 team and I was managing some of those young drivers. Our rivalry is more intense, and there may be things we no longer share with each other. We are both emotional people, so sometimes these emotions can boil over, but we understand each other; we just have to do our best for our teams, and that can sometimes conflict with the other team.”

“But that’s the very nature of this job. I think it would be wrong and condescending for me to say whether his work is good or not. From the outside, what I see is that the team seems much more structured, with a direct approach. And Fred has always been like that. You can’t tell him a story because he will see through it. And it’s no coincidence that the team has started to win races and compete in the world championships for constructors and drivers.”

Wolff Reflects on F1 Discusses Antonelli Vasseur

Wolff Reflects on F1, Discusses Antonelli, Vasseur. Wolff Reflects on F1, Discusses Antonelli, Vasseur. f1 2024 Wolff Reflects on F1, Discusses Antonelli, Vasseur

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