Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff: “It’s a good result but we need to be realistic too”

Toto Wolff was delighted to see Lewis Hamilton and George Russell claim the first double podium finish of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team during Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Mercedes were the second fastest team outright at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya behind Oracle Red Bull Racing, although Wolff remains realistic that there is still work to be done to be truly competitive this season.

Wolff, the Team Principal and CEO at Mercedes, says the cooler than expected temperatures in Spain on Saturday and Sunday benefitted the team and gave them an operating window where the car excelled, but they need to understand the recently upgraded W14 more before they can be sure it is genuinely back at the front.

“I’m really pleased with the hard work that has been done in Brackley and Brixworth, and happy for everyone in the Team,” said Wolff.  “It’s a good result but we need to be realistic too.

“The lower temperatures today and on Saturday really suited us; it was nice and fresh, not too hot nor too cold, and the car was in a mega window.”

Wolff says it was important to make the change to their aerodynamic direction early in the season, and whilst acknowledging it was a risky move, it seems to have paid off for now as they are a lot closer to the front of the pack than they were previously.

“We took a decision to go in another direction early in the season; it was a risky move, but everyone has just pushed forward and we’ve got a good race car,” Wolff added.  “We now need to just keep chipping away.

“We are a good Team at grinding away; once there is a clear direction we just go for it. Let’s keep our expectations real though. We’ve got a long way to go to catch Red Bull but it’s good to see we are moving in the right direction.”

“It’s great to see both cars on the podium again” – Andrew Shovlin

Andrew Shovlin, the Trackside Engineering Director at Mercedes, admitted it was pleasing to see both drivers standing on the podium in Spain on Sunday, and the result has given everyone behind the scenes a boost.

Recent updates to the car in Monaco appear to have given Mercedes a more stable platform to work from, with the team opting to introduce new sidepods to the W14, much akin to Red Bull’s.

Shovlin says the updates have brought extra performance to the car, and they were genuinely ahead of both Scuderia Ferrari and the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team in Spain.

“It’s great to see both cars on the podium again,” said Shovlin.  “It’s been a while! We’re obviously pleased with the result but it’s more satisfying to see the progress with the car.

“The Team have been working flat out since the Bahrain test to bring improvements to the car, and it’s nice to see that the recent updates appear to have brought performance.

“The drivers did a great job balancing the need to push to overtake today with the tyre management requirements. The Team also did really well optimising the race. For sure this track suits the car, especially on the long run, so we’re realistic about our chances in Montreal.

“We seem to be moving in the right direction though and that’s the main thing. We’ve made good progress in the championship; Max is clearly out of arms reach for us at the moment, but we had fun today and we’re looking forward to the next races.”

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton celebrate after both finished on the podium in Spain – Credit: LAT Images