Toto Wolff has conceded that Mercedes are “a few months” behind Red Bull and Ferrari after their troubling start to the season.
Having gone from World Champions to midfield battlers, Wolff has been looking back on one of the more difficult seasons of his career in F1. They have been one of the biggest disappointments of the season so far having failed to win a race in 2022.
The team do appear to have turned a corner having solved their porpoising issues and finishing the last two races before the summer break P2 and P3.
Winning either Championship looks off the table at this point but they are within a realistic chance of pipping Ferrari to P2 in the Constructors’. Wolff said it was Mercedes‘ form on the Saturday that has been the most troubling.
“The start of the season wasn’t really any good,” Wolff said. “And there is no other way of describing it. Because if you win the Championship in December then four months on, you’re not competing with the guys in the front. That’s frustrating.
“Since then we had a roller coaster, we’ve been on the podium, almost every single race. We were strong on the Sundays, but never quite there in qualifying and the gap was simply too large.
“So now it’s about trying to understand what it is and in the second half of the season, hopefully increase our qualifying pace, and then be able to race for victories. Well, there is not a lot that really went so well, if you consider that our expectations was to fight for a world championship.
Wolff has said the team’s prolonged difficulty in overcoming the bouncing issue meant they had to stop development, which has left them missing “a few months” from the teams at the front of the grid.
“Our biggest weakness from the get go was that our car was bouncing, the famous porpoising,” the Austrian said. “And it meant that this was overshadowing all our development.
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“We couldn’t really develop the car aerodynamically and put good updates on because the more downforce we had an a car, the worse the bouncing was.
“But I think since Barcelona we have understood better and now going into shutdown the car has no purpose anymore. But having said that, we are missing a few months of development and this is really where we’re playing a catch up game with the guys in front.”
Wolff has been trying to take the positives from this season and said that the lessons they learned from this difficult campaign could help them with their longer-term goals.
“We need to take the positives is what we’ve said in the past days, we lose on the days we learn the most and I think this is what happened.
“Our car was really difficult. It didn’t improve in time, it really seemed that it doesn’t improve. I think the learnings that we made, the tough learnings, will help us over many years. But also our time span is not a single weekend or even a single year.
“We’re looking at continuing to develop the organisation over two years and five years and 10 years. And for this maybe the learnings and the toughness we had to fill this year can be beneficial.”