Declaring Toto Wolff is either “bored or perplexed” these days, Ralf Schumacher doesn’t believe the “headless” Mercedes team are on the same trajectory as old rivals Ferrari.
As Red Bull dominated this year’s championship, Mercedes and Ferrari had to recover from a lacklustre start to sit second and third in the Constructors’ Championship where they’re separated by four points.
It’s been a season of ups and downs for both teams who admitted they knew in pre-season testing already that their cars were not World Championship-winning material.
‘The team isn’t falling apart, but it’s a little headless’
But while in the run-in to the season finale Ferrari have taken a step forward, the same cannot be said of Mercedes.
The team was left frustrated and annoyed after the Brazilian Grand Prix where they were woefully off the pace while one race later in Las Vegas they would only bring home a seventh and eighth.
That same weekend team boss Wolff exploded at the media in a rant for which he was subsequently warned by the FIA.
All in all, it has Schumacher worried about Mercedes’ 2024 prospects.
“To be honest, Mercedes is a little surprise bag,” the former F1 driver turned Sky Sports pundit said as per Motorsport.com.
“For me, we always have a bored or perplexed Toto Wolff in our interviews, who has sometimes made a distant impression lately.
“You get the feeling that the team isn’t falling apart at the moment, but that it’s a little headless.”
The drivers and their relationship hasn’t helped the situation either with tension seeming to be rising between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
The two clashed on track, and over the radio, in Japan and Qatar with the latter ending in a DNF for Hamilton as he turned in on Russell at Turn 1 on the opening lap.
The younger Brit, though, has also made mistakes with his most recent coming in Las Vegas where he was penalised for clashing with Max Verstappen.
“The two drivers don’t seem to be indifferent to each other either,” Schumacher continued.
“You can tell George’s nerves have become thin for his standards, [he] makes a lot of mistakes and is very aggressive when driving.”
“Mercedes still has a lot of work to do,” he added.
Positive assessment of Ferrari’s progress under Fred Vasseur
The eight-time Grand Prix winner’s assessment of Ferrari is a notable difference.
Although the Scuderia head into the final race of the season trailing Mercedes in the championship, they’ve narrowed that deficit from 56 points to just four ahead of the Yas Marina start.
In a season dominated by Red Bull, Ferrari are second on the scorecard for the most podiums and remain the only team to have won a Grand Prix outside of Red Bull with Carlos Sainz P1 in Singapore.
Schumacher believes the future looks brighter for Ferrari than it does for Mercedes.
“At Ferrari it now seems to be at least going in the right direction. Everything that Frederic Vasseur is doing now seems to be slowly working,” he said.
“The restructuring of the team is also having an effect, so we can hope that things will work out quite well next year.”