Having ditched the vast experience of Ross Brawn who both positioned the team technically to challenge for F1 world titles and skilfully charted the political shark infested waters of the paddock, Mercedes decided Toto Wolff was their new boss man.
Toto has grown in the job and the bitch fighting between Britney and Bling Bling has so far been kept under control in 2016. Though were Lewis to have another clutch issue at the start of the British GP, then the simmering tension within the race team since the events of Monaco may well just boil over.
Clearly, the boss of Brackley has concerns too for the good of Formula One. “I think we have a duty to F1 – to not talk it down. We are, and all of you [the media] are, F1’s ambassadors, and by constantly picking the negatives we got ourselves into a spiral of negative controversy. And I don’t think this is what is good for F1.
“We should have the duty of talking it up, and not talking it down. I have read a couple of articles in the last couple of days which are really rubbish, comparisons with Formula E and stuff”.
Credit where credit is due, it is laudable that someone living within the F1 bubble knows that Formula E even exists.
“F1 is also about controversy, on track and off track”, Wolff concedes and addresses whether his team’s current and medium term dominance of the sport is a good or bad thing.
“If I take my Mercedes hat off, and I look at what the spectacle has to offer, I think it is a good spectacle.
“Is it good that one team wins pretty regularly, or predictably? Maybe not. But we have seen that in the past as well”.
Wolff then elaborates on what exactly he thinks isn’t broken with F1 in 2015.
“There is so much talking about lap times in general, so much talking about the cars are not quick enough.
“If you consider that those cars with the standard tyres are at the beginning of their evolution – we are in year number two, so very early stages of these new regulations – and you compare them to the very end of the V10 and eight-cylinder engines, we are almost on the lap records of these old V10 and V8 era.
“We are sometimes a second off, sometimes five tenths, some times two seconds. But all that, with a car which is 100kg heavier and carrying 50 or 60kg less fuel. So I think that’s pretty impressive.”
Of course Pirelli have come under fire in 2015, for producing and selecting conservative compounds that lead to one stop races – which is not part of their brief.
Christian Horner re-emphasised the importance of the Pirelli mandated number of race stops following the Canadian GP. “You need to have two to three stops, and that’s important. Unfortunately, the tyres we have now are just a bit too conservative”.
Toto argues, Pirelli are in fact doing a good job in difficult circumstances.
“It’s a standard tyre, and Pirelli is given a task of making it between one and two pit stops, and they are doing a pretty solid job. I don’t know actually how much the tyres changed from last year to this year”.
Oops Toto – the Pirelli target is between two and three pit stops… not 1-2 as you say…
Oh well, what do team bosses know after all?
Speaking of being ambassadors for the sport, most people accept Mercedes have done the best job with the new engine formula and deserve a period of success as did Red Bull. However, Mercedes and Wolff need to begin addressing matters properly for 2017 and beyond rather than refusing to engage with change to protect their position.
The ‘hero’ status Mercedes may have gained with certain fans as the team who broke the dominance of Newey and Red Bull – will only last for so long.
Formula One cannot have two of its four engine manufacturers locked in to regulations until 2020 that mean they are unable to compete properly.
It’s time for Wolff to wake up and stop talking Unsinn.
It could well be Mercedes and Toto are prepared to allow change, but are dragging matters out – hoping to go beyond the deadline where significant alterations in the regulations for 2017 are possible.