‘Even Adrian Newey would have a hard time solving Mercedes’ problems’ – Toto Wolff

Michelle Foster
Toto Wolff in the team boss press conference

Mercedes continue to struggle in F1's ground-effect aerodynamic era

Lamenting yet another “hair-tearing” day, such was Toto Wolff’s mood he feels “even the greatest magician” in Adrian Newey would “have a hard time” solving Mercedes’ problems.

Failing to score a single point in the Sprint race at the Miami Grand Prix where George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were 12th and 16th, the latter penalised for speeding in the pit lane, Mercedes had hoped for a better showing from qualifying.

‘No explanations, no excuses. It’s just not good enough’

But while both drivers made it into the pole position shoot-out, something they failed to do in Friday’s Sprint qualifying, they didn’t have the pace to challenge at the front and will line up seventh and eighth on Sunday with Russell ahead of his team-mate.

It was just the latest disappointment for the once-dominant Mercedes team.

“Hamilton puts out a lap that is a tenth away from everyone else at the same time in Q3. And then in the next run, nothing worked,” Wolff rued to Sky Deutschland.

“That’s the science we don’t understand at the moment with tyres. That’s no excuse, but everyone else understands it better.”

Conceding that the performance of the heavily revised W15 is “not good enough”, Wolff says Mercedes’ pace – or lack thereof – means they pay a heavy price for even the smallest of mistakes.

“If you have a really fast car, [the small mistakes] are lost,” he continued. “If a tenth of a second distinguishes between respectable and not respectable, then of course it makes everything worse.

“Our pit stops are very good. Nobody talks about that anymore. We changed the car but the performance is still not good enough. The others always take these steps forward and for us it’s incredibly slow and unsatisfactory.

“It’s hair-tearing. You just have to admit and it’s annoying that we keep falling back into situations where the same problem keeps occurring, and that is that we overheat the tyres in the back.

“No explanations, no excuses. It’s just not good enough. Just keep arguing, keep developing and hopefully get on the right track like McLaren did last year.”

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‘Even the greatest magician would have difficulty solving the problems’

Three years into Formula 1’s ground-effect aerodynamic era, Mercedes have just one win on the board with George Russell P1 at the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix. Red Bull have 42.

It begs the question, will Mercedes make a play for Red Bull design legend Newey when he becomes available next season?

Newey and Red Bull announced on Wednesday that after 19 years and 12 and counting championship titles, they would part ways after the first quarter of 2025.

But while Wolff says a team “should never” dismiss the 65-year-old, whose cars have won 25 championship titles in total, right now he fears “even the greatest magician” would struggle to pull Mercedes out of their rut.

Asked if he was an issue for Mercedes, Wolff replied: “You should never say, he is an incredible engineer.

“But at the moment, even the greatest magician would probably have a hard time solving our problems.”

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