Toto Wolff backed to ‘sort it out’ but questions asked of Mercedes W15 design team

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff with a stern look on the pit wall.

Toto Wolff with a stern look.

Mercedes’ woes should not be placed on the shoulders of Toto Wolff in the opinion of former F1 driver Hans-Joachim Stuck, who instead has called out the W15 designers.

Mercedes went back to the drawing board for their F1 2024 challenger, the W15, looking to put two disappointing seasons behind them and return to challenging for regular victories and perhaps even launch a title push. However, neither look likely at this stage.

‘One of the best’ Toto Wolff must fix Mercedes design office

Red Bull and Ferrari have started the new campaign as the fastest teams out there, with Mercedes locked out of the podium picture, George Russell’s P5 in Bahrain their best result of the campaign so far.

The team has achieved record-breaking success under Wolff’s leadership, having reeled off eight Constructors’ Championship wins in a row between 2014-21, though Stuck, twice a podium finisher in F1, fears that if Wolff were not a one-third owner of the team as well as the principal, then he may no longer be in charge at this point.

“Mercedes is simply not at the level of Red Bull and Ferrari,” Stuck told Eurosport.

“And you also have to talk about Toto Wolff. It is probably an advantage for him that he is a co-owner. If it were a pure Mercedes team, I’m not sure he wouldn’t have been replaced already – to put it bluntly.”

However, Stuck made it clear that he does not believe Wolff should face such a threat as “he’s not responsible for” Mercedes’ situation, the German ex-racer saying it is the designers of the Mercedes W15 who should answer for the struggles of their latest challenger.

The W15 is the first car designed back under the stewardship of Mercedes’ technical director James Allison, who returned to the position last year.

“To put it simply, the chief designer needs to be replaced,” Stuck suggested. “The idea generators in development simply lack the right approaches.

“In comparison, Ferrari is better with its engineers because they have a completely different level.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

F1 team principals’ rich list: Net worth figures revealed for Wolff, Horner and more

F1 team principals: How long has each team boss been in charge?

And so to that point, Stuck says that Wolff must put the right people into place once more at Mercedes for fresh success, claiming he is “one of the best” for the job.

“Toto Wolff himself is not responsible for the potential of the car,” Stuck continued. “He used to be a racing driver himself and knows what is important in this business.

“His job is to find the necessary levers and adjusting screws and to deploy the right people in development. Of course, he will put pressure on the developers. But he also has to ask himself whether the right people are at the helm. That is the job of the team boss and, in my opinion, Wolff is one of the best.

“Toto is the man – and he has to sort it out. But it will be very difficult in the current season.”

Mercedes sit P4 in the early F1 2024 Constructors’ Championship standings and are already 71 points behind leaders Red Bull.

Read next: Why sacking Toto Wolff and James Allison is not the answer to Mercedes problems