Wolff: Mercedes may compromise Monaco qualifying pace

Adam Cooper
24 May, 2024

Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff admits that team will probably have to compromise qualifying pace in Monaco in order to make the W15 a more raceable car on Sunday.

The Brackley outfit had a good Friday in the principality, with Lewis Hamilton topping FP1, when the team used new softs as it feared rain in the afternoon, and taking second place to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in FP2. Meanwhile, his team-mate George Russell was third in the first session and 10th in the second after suffering a steering issue.

However, while Hamilton’s one-lap pace was encouraging for a team that has endured a difficult season thus far, the performance quickly fell away over a longer run, and that will probably mean overnight set-up changes that could impact the car’s potential in qualifying.

“On a single lap, it was good, the car is good,” Wolff said. “On a long run, it was less so. I think after lap six, seven we really lost the front.

“And then, if you can’t get the car into the corner any more, then the Sunday could be pretty grim. So we need to find a compromise.”

Asked if potentially dialling out one-lap performance would be frustrating he said: “It could be, but we’ve got to see. Single lap is better than we thought. But you always need to obviously find a compromise.”

Hamilton - GP Monaco 2024

Hamilton said it had been a positive day while conceding that Mercedes had to do work to reduce graining.

“It’s been a good day, probably the best we’ve had so far this year, and the car is feeling very positive,” said the Mercedes driver.

“This track is just amazing in an F1 car, and I’ve been enjoying my driving today – I was pleasantly surprised by the grip level and the way the car was responding, which made it a much more enjoyable ride than the last two years. 

“In the second session, it felt a bit less comfortable, and we’ve got lots of work to do overnight to improve the long runs and the front graining. It was a feeling positive on the lower fuel, and we don’t want to lose that, but our focus now is to improve on the long run.”

Trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin noted: “Our long run needs some work as we’ve got to be a bit kinder on the front tyres on Sunday, but we’ve got some options for that.”

Meanwhile, Red Bull Racing also had issues that will require overnight changes, with Max Verstappen complaining of poor performance over the bumps and saying that he had a headache, and Sergio Perez noting that he couldn’t see at some points on the circuit.

Verstappen was still fourth in FP2, albeit 0.535s off pacesetter Leclerc, while Perez was eighth. Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko admitted that the team has work to do.

“It shows that we are too stiff,” Verstappen said. “To identify it is simple, but to cure it is not so simple. We had very good long run times, which doesn’t help here if you cannot start in the front. But we get an idea where we have to make our changes.”

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