Toto Wolff reveals “fundamental” issue limiting Mercedes

Jaden Diaz
10 Mar, 2024

Toto Wolff explains why Mercedes was again unable to optimise their performance with the W15 in Saudi Arabia. George Russell and Lewis Hamilton both had rather underwhelming races in the streets of Jeddah.

Whilst Bahrain was far from an outstanding event for Mercedes, there were at least encouraging signs. Despite engine overheating forcing the Silver Arrows to sacrifice lap time, there were still positive indications.

However, yesterday’s Saudi Arabia GP was a rude awakening for Toto Wolff’s team.

There were already concerns after qualifying, with both McLaren and Aston Martin showing more speed. The W15’s performance in high-speed corners was especially worrying, which was displayed quite clearly in the first sector.

Despite Aston Martin’s struggles on race day in Bahrain, Fernando Alonso kept George Russell at bay throughout the race distance.

And whilst a lack of straight-line speed prevented Piastri from overtaking Lewis Hamilton, the 7-time Champion also failed to pass Lando Norris in his final stint.

For a team that spoke of untapped potential after the first round, their performance in Jeddah was certainly disappointing.

Speaking post-race, Toto Wolff outlined the team’s situation:

“It’s just the high-speed variant where we are losing the lap time,” he told Sky Sports.

“There is only so much you can tune here. Our simulations point us in a direction, and this is the kind of set-up range that we then choose. 

“You put the rear wing on, and I think you gain a few tenths or not if you get the set-up right or wrong. 

“But there’s not a massive corridor of performance. It’s a more fundamental thing that we believe the speed should be there. 

“And we measure the downforce, but we don’t find it on the lap time.”

Mercedes

(L to R): James Allison (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 Technical Director with Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director.
27.04.2019. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Baku Street Circuit, Azerbaijan, Qualifying Day.
Photo credit should read: XPB/Press Association Images.

Correlation problems between the simulator and race track have been a persistent issue for Mercedes since 2022.

James Allison and his technical team must prove they have learned from the failures of recent seasons.

Although drawing conclusions from two race weekends is unwise, observations can certainly be made.

At least so far, the German manufacturer still hasn’t solved every piece of the puzzle.

With their customer teams McLaren and Aston Martin still legitimate threats in 2024, they cannot afford to make any mistakes with development.

Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang

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