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Wolff Unhappy with F1 Demands Mercedes Step Up

Wolff Unhappy with F1, Demands Mercedes Step Up

23/04/2024

Toto Wolff expresses deep dissatisfaction with Mercedes F1’s performance, demanding significant improvements as the team struggles to keep pace.

The end of illusions and denial? Much like McLaren post-2013, Mercedes F1 must stop kidding themselves and face reality. No, the team has not been able to develop a fast enough car for two years.

This is a general awakening that George Russell is calling for with a strong statement yesterday (see our article).

In China last Sunday, George Russell finished 6th, behind both McLaren F1s and the two Ferraris; meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton, starting from the back of the grid, made it back to 9th place. In comparison, Lewis Hamilton’s 2nd place in the sprint seems like a flash in the pan.

Toto Wolff, however, has in recent weeks appeared to downplay Mercedes F1’s failures, adopting an intentionally optimistic tone.

But the tone is precisely what is changing on the part of the Austrian.

“I am not satisfied at all.”

“The only highlight might have been the second place in the Sprint, but the speed is simply not there. We can try to justify ourselves again and say that our car shines at times, but we simply need to take a step forward.”

“Of course, we are going to bring in new things, but we are now behind the Ferraris and behind Lando Norris. It’s simply not enough.”

“It’s not easy when you experience such a long slump, as it’s already the third year for us. Our analysis shows that all the ingredients are there to perform well, but somehow the sum doesn’t add up for us. There’s something we’re not quite understanding.”

Mercedes F1’s performance must indeed be judged relative to others: McLaren F1 has made a spectacular recovery, Ferrari remains solid, and, by comparison, Brackley seems less impressive.

“The cars have been difficult throughout these last two years. The advantage we had was that McLaren was not really competing against us, let’s say for the first half of last season. They weren’t very competitive, Ferrari wasn’t as fast and dropped opportunities repeatedly. That’s why we were regularly in contention for the podium, and closer to Red Bull.”

“Now that McLaren has improved its performance, it’s a relative game. And suddenly, what was good enough for third place last year is just enough for sixth place today. That’s why it’s tough for the car, it’s as difficult as before.”

“It’s tough for the drivers. On Saturday, when we discussed it, George said it was the most difficult car he’s had so far in qualifying. So, overall, in a way, the same symptoms are there.”

New parts in Miami… but no miracle?

Will the upgrades Mercedes F1 expects in Miami allow them to improve?

“The car is a difficult car, hard to set up and drive,” Toto Wolff puts it into perspective.

“That’s why you have these fluctuations in performance, in my opinion. Lewis’s car [with extreme settings, ed.], in Shanghai, was far from its optimal state… but we’re on a knife-edge with the settings.”

“This is where we are at. For Miami, we are bringing new elements, which is interesting—to see how they will perform on the car.”

For Wolff, it’s about getting everything together, because this time, it’s the low-speed performance that was lacking.

“I think we absolutely achieved it in the high-speed corners. We were also super competitive at Suzuka, in the Esses, it was night and day compared to what we had before and the drivers were saying it was the best car they’d had in the last two and a half years.”

“But then, in China, we really weren’t performing at low speed. We gained half a second at high speed, but lost half a second at low speed, and that equation means you’re back to square one.”

“It’s something we need to improve on, we’re past the understanding stage, we just need to improve, that’s what we need to achieve. We have all the facts on the table, we know what we’ve changed to solve the problem for high speeds and we know where the car was before to be fast at low speeds.”

“Now, we just need to put together a car that can do both—and we’ve seen these moments of performance, but overall, we’re just not good enough at this stage.”

Wolff Unhappy with F1, Demands Mercedes Step Up. Wolff Unhappy with F1, Demands Mercedes Step Up

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