Toto Wolff not surprised to see Red Bull perform well in testing. Mercedes AMG F1 boss Toto Wolff was not surprised to see a strong Red Bull in winter testing, but the Austrian is not yet sure whether the gap between the Milton Keynes-based team and Mercedes has been narrowed or widened this year.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits he is still unsure of the W14’s pace against the competition after three days of winter testing in Bahrain.
During the three days of pre-season testing, some of the teams on the grid – including Red Bull – made a strong impression, which did not surprise Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who expects the Milton Keynes-based team to be favourites for the world title again this year.
“Not surprised Red Bull are fast…”
Asked if he thinks the gap between Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes will be even bigger this year than last season, Toto Wolff said, “They are fast, but it’s not surprising.”
“It’s very difficult to judge at this stage, because everyone has played with fuel loads and played with engine modes. So we can’t really judge.”
Regarding the performance of the 2023 Mercedes, Toto Wolff admits that the whole team is excited to start a new season not knowing yet if the W14 will be better than its predecessor:
“It’s a feeling of excitement, because we got it wrong last year and finished third and we really want to fight for the world championship, that’s the goal, but we have to stay humble.”
“Mentally it was quite difficult to start with a car that wasn’t up to scratch last year, so hopefully we’ll see something better [this season], and that’s where the excitement comes from. But we want to do it right.”
During the three days of testing in Bahrain, the Mercedes W14 completed a total of 2,153 kilometres in the hands of both drivers, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell. While it is still difficult to judge pure performance, reliability seemed to be there with only one problem encountered that the publically admits to (a hydraulic failure on day two).
Asked what he thought of the W14 compared to last year’s car, George Russell said, “It’s hard to say so far although there are a lot of improvements [over the W13] in some areas.”
“Unfortunately, because of the problem [the hydraulic failure on Friday afternoon] we lost some track time. But I think we were able to discover some interesting things in the data that hopefully will help us gain some lap time. So we have to keep the positives,” added Russell.
On the other side of the garage, Lewis Hamilton also feels that the W14 is a better car than the W13, not least because the bounce is all but gone: “The bounce we had is all but gone,” said the seven-time world champion.
“It’s a huge step forward for us. It’s nice to drive without bounce for once, but there are still some underlying things we’re working on.”
“Some of the limitations in terms of balance that we had last year are there and we are working on them. But I’m really proud of everyone in the team for staying positive after a difficult year last year.”
Russell admits, no win in Bahrain
From what he has seen during the three days of pre-season testing, George Russell says he does not expect Mercedes to be in a position to challenge for victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend.
After last week’s winter test at the Sakhir track in Bahrain, George Russell believes Red Bull is still the team to beat this season and, while he believes Mercedes will be able to challenge for wins this year, the Briton believes it would be “overkill” to expect Mercedes to win the first race of the 2023 campaign.
“We really believe that we will definitely have a car capable of competing in this fight [for victory], but for that to happen as early as next weekend in Bahrain, I think that would be a bit of a stretch.”
“They [Red Bull] look really strong, the car looks really strong, and Max [Verstappen] looks good. So I think realistically it’s going to be difficult for next week [for the Bahrain GP].”
“But there’s no reason why we can’t get there at some point this year, and we’ve always seen the strength of Mercedes in their development capabilities. So, yes that’s my belief.”
Some Mercedes positives
The times set by the drivers in pre-season testing are obviously to be taken with a great deal of salt, not least because we don’t know the engine maps used by the teams or the fuel load in the cars.
In this winter test, George Russell set only the eighth fastest time in his Mercedes, but the British driver insisted that his team is in a better position than it was at the same time last year, when Mercedes discovered in 2022 pre-season testing that their car was affected by bouncebacks that compromised their season.
“The entry phase [into corners] has been improved,” Russell said of the Mercedes W14’s handling.
“It’s no secret when you watch the onboard videos that we still struggle a little bit with balance and a lot of trouble in the middle of the corner.”
“But I think finding the right balance will be easier than last year. So even though we are still a bit limited, I think it’s a good problem [compared to the various problems with the W13 last year].”
The 2023 Formula One World Championship kicks off this weekend with the Bahrain Grand Prix, the first round of a record 23-race season.
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Last year Masi give Ham a lot of rope, turning a blind eye to his exceeding track limits a unbelievale 29 times in Bahrain. The others only watched helplessly. Then there were umpteen other times Ham got off lightly, none more than at Silverstone.
Ham and Wolff made a big mistake expelling Masi from F1. They could have gained so much with him in place.
Your comments only serve to show just how little you know
“turning a blind eye to his exceeding track limits a unbelievale (SP) 29 times in Bahrain”
At each race, the Race Director will issue technical briefings to drivers that state which corners track limits will be enforced upon. These will usually be based on findings of previous races (previous years and support races), track changes etc, there are many factors. To say he exceeded limits 29 times and got away with it whilst simultaneously selectively ignoring (worse) or just not knowing (partially excusable), AND ignoring all the other drivers who are also doing it at every opportunity – why concede a competitive advantage to your title rival, for example?), gives you away
“Then there were umpteen other times Ham got off lightly, none more than at Silverstone”
Massi didn’t let him off, and nor did the stewards (who actually adjudge blame in on track collisions, not the RD). He was adjudged to be mostly to blame and punished accordingly. The fact he went on to win is nothing to do with the punishment
“Ham and Wolff made a big mistake expelling Massi from F1. They could have gained so much with him in place”
They didn’t expel him, and what would they have gained in 2022 if he was still there? A car that didn’t porpoise and that was 2seconds a lap faster? No, I don’t think so either
Just more obvious bile from you
So nice to read an unbiased and factual report on Hamilton and Mercedes. Racist and repulsive comments don’t do this site justice.