Saturday, April 20, 2024

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff: “The car will continue to evolve in the coming weeks”

Despite not having been racing since the Australian Grand Prix at the beginning of April, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team have been working tirelessly back at their factories to try and improve their W14 car, according to Team Principal Toto Wolff.

The cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix for a fourth consecutive season due to coronavirus restrictions in the country meant a four-week gap between the Australian and Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but Wolff says Mercedes have been working hard to try and bring updates to their car.

Wolff says Lewis Hamilton’s positive second place finish in Albert Park last time out – and the fact George Russell led early on – shows the team are working in the right direction with the car, and it is important to continue to bring improvements if they are to return to winning ways.

“We’ve had a few weeks off from racing but both factories have been hard at work,” said Wolff.  “We’ve tried to maximise this period, bringing planned development to the car and extracting as much as possible from our learnings so far.

“Australia showed that we are making progress, although we need to be cautious about reading too much into a single result. But the signs in Melbourne were still encouraging and that has been a good motivator for the whole team heading into this gap in the calendar.

“Over the next races, we want to keep on making small steps forward. The car will continue to evolve in the coming weeks, as we steadily bring performance and upgrades to the track. We’re excited to see their impact, but we know there is no magic bullet.”

This weekend will see the first sprint race of the season under a new format, with just a single practice session prior to two Qualifying sessions, the Saturday sprint race and Sunday’s main event.

Wolff says the new format will be an interesting challenge, particularly with the limited running in practice that will need to see drivers maximise their track time in order to find a reasonable set-up for Qualifying and racing.

“After just under a month with no F1 action, everyone’s eager to be back out on track,” Wolff added. “Thankfully we’ve got plenty of that coming up. It’s a busy window in the calendar with five races in six weekends, starting with Azerbaijan.

“The racing in Baku is always dramatic and entertaining. It’s a challenging track with the walls close, so there’s no room for error. We also have our first F1 Sprint weekend of the season with a tweaked format.

“It’s an interesting challenge for us to tackle, with only a single practice session to be ready for two qualifying sessions and races spread across Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully this will mean more excitement and action for fans to enjoy.”