Toto Wolff says the odds of Mercedes winning this year’s Drivers’ title are “eight-to-two” but that this is racing and “anything can happen”.
Designing a zero-pod W13 as their interpretation of this year’s new technical regulations, Mercedes are struggling more than others with porpoising.
The extreme bouncing, a consequence of running ground effect aerodynamics to create downforce, means the team has had to raise the ride-height of the car. And that means a loss of downforce and pace.
Rivals and pundits alike are convinced that once Mercedes resolve the porpoising problems, they’ll shoot to the front of the field.
But for now they are minimising the damage, and doing so rather effectively given that George Russell is P2 in the Drivers’ Championship and Mercedes are runner-up to Ferrari in the Constructors’.
They are, however, well off the pace of Ferrari with Russell 34 points down on Charles Leclerc and Mercedes 39 adrift of Ferrari.
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Wolff said as per GPFans: “I think we are on the backfoot.
“If we look at it from a mathematical standpoint and probability, I would probably say that the odds are eight-to-two but this is motor racing and anything can happen.
“Teams can DNF and if we unlock the potential of the car then we can arrive back in the game.
“So as a motor racer, I would say it is probably 40-60. As a mathematician, I would say the odds are worse against us.
“But third race of the season, we are not going to write the title off but it is just the current status quo, we are – what was the gap [in Australian Grand Prix qualifying]? – seven tenths off.”
His drivers, though, are a bit more optimistic.
“There are 20 races to go,” said Lewis Hamilton. “If you think realistically, with the way how the sport goes in terms of everyone’s development, the top teams often develop at a similar pace and similar rate. Will that be the case with this new car? Who knows?
“I’m really, really hoping we can get in the fight soon. But with every bit of improvement we will probably make, [Ferrari] and Red Bull will probably make a similar sort of step, so it’s not going be easy.
“Yes the gap is pretty big right now. But there is a long way to go.”
Russell, conceding that “P2 in the championship is pretty crazy” given Mercedes’ troubles, added: “We know the potential is in the car. And we’ve got a lot of work to do to extract that performance.
“It won’t happen overnight; it won’t happen in the next race, but I do think in time we will get there. So, for the time being, if we keep picking up these results, it’s keeping us in the mix.”
Championship odds are not in Mercedes’ favour
With the position Mercedes are in right now, the chances of them winning either championship this year is very slim.