Mercedes ended their winless Formula One season in Brazil in dominant fashion, but Toto Wolff puzzles over why they were so much faster than Red Bull and Ferrari, the Austrian team boss admitting that the Brackley based squad are somewhat clueless as to why they were so quick at Interlagos.
George Russell scored his first Formula One victory at Interlagos on Sunday, joining team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who finished second, to celebrate the first Mercedes one-two since the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in 2020.
At the same time, the result marked Mercedes’ first grand prix victory of the current season, in which the team was unable to compete with Red Bull and Ferrari for race wins at the start due to problems with its car.
While Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc were involved in incidents at Interlagos that affected their races, Russell controlled the action at the front of the field. Only Hamilton could have been a threat to him – a dominance that also surprised Mercedes themselves.
Upward trend yes, dominance no
While Toto Wolff believes the team “had the fastest package all weekend”, he said he was not sure why the advantage over the others was so great.
“I think it’s just the sum of the parts that have been put into the car – the good work that has been done during the season on the power unit side and all of us together,” Wolff said. “But we have seen the trend, the positive trend in the last three races.”
Nevertheless, the Mercedes team boss maintains, “Are we back to dominance? No, we’re not. I think Abu Dhabi is much more difficult for us on paper, also because we are still too ‘draggy’.” By this Wolff means that Mercedes suffers from high drag compared to its rivals.
“We know why. And we know why we are better. But do we know why we were so far ahead of everyone else this weekend? We don’t know.”
First win without Toto Wolff trackside
Mercedes spent the first part of the season tackling the W13’s “porpoising” problem before finding a deeper issue that explained the car’s lack of performance throughout the year. Development work continued on the chassis to make it more competitive.
The update, unveiled in Austin last month, represented a decent step forward. Wolff is “super proud” of the team’s turnaround this year and says they never lost faith in overcoming the problems.
“We had situations where we felt we got it, and there were setbacks and of course weekends that were enormously difficult, like Spa,” the Austrian looks back. “But the team never stopped believing that we were on the right track.”
“This shows the mentality and values of the team and I am very proud of what we have achieved,” he stresses.
Seeing how the team functioned smoothly and succeeded, even though he was not on the ground in Brazil, only made him “even prouder”.
It was only the third race Wolff has missed since joining Mercedes in 2013, and the first the team has won in his absence.
“I’m proud of the organisation we’ve built, with so many people keeping it up and helping us to win today.”