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

Oliver Harden
Toto Wolff looks serious in the Jeddah night with a prominent Mercedes logo alongside him

Toto Wolff is under mounting pressure after Mercedes' poor start to the 2024 season

Mercedes have been warned against pinning the blame for their poor start to the F1 2024 season on team boss Toto Wolff and technical director James Allison by Sky F1 pundit Karun Chandhok.

Having been restricted to just a single race win since F1’s ground effect rules were introduced in 2022, Mercedes had hoped to return to regular victory contention with the new-look W15 car this season.

Toto Wolff under fire after Mercedes W15 disappoints

However, the team are yet to register a podium finish after three races of the new campaign, with Mercedes failing to score a point in a race for the first time since June 2021 at last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The W15’s lacklustre performance comes after Allison claimed over the winter that Mercedes were aiming to be “in with a shout” of winning both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ World Championships after establishing a “pretty ambitious program” with the 2024 car.

Mercedes’ extended woes have raised questions over whether Wolff – a one-third shareholder in the team – is the right man to turn the situation around, having led the Brackley-based outfit to a record eight consecutive Constructors’ titles from 2014.

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Allison has also seen his position come under scrutiny, having returned to the role of technical director in 2023 after a job swap with Mike Elliott, who went on to leave Mercedes last October.

However, Chandhok has leapt to the defence of both Wolff and Allison, claiming it would be unfair to hold them responsible for the team’s ongoing troubles.

And he believes the “answer” for Mercedes could lie in “poaching” some of Red Bull’s talent in a bid to close the hap to the reigning Champions.

He said: “I don’t think you can blame a single person in a team.

“Toto and James are the ultimate leaders of the team and therefore carry a greater responsibility for the overall performance than people in individual departments, but they are not the ones drawing the car or the ones looking into the detail of it.

“I don’t think sacking Toto or James is going to fix the problem.

“What they need to do is understand what Red Bull have got right and how Red Bull have been able to unlock this amazing performance in this era of car.

“Whether that means poaching some people from Red Bull, that might be an answer. That’s where Toto and James come in.

“It’s about making sure they are hoovering up the right people in the team.”

Chandhok’s comments come after Sky F1 commentator Martin Brundle suggested Mercedes’ woes must be testing Wolff’s patience.

He said: “Toto Wolff always has elegant words and phrases to move the story on and refocus for the next race or season, but it must be wearing very thin for him to see the lack of progress.”

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