Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has made an attempt to keep a lid on expectations as the Silver Arrows return to action at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
With Mercedes yet to return to the title picture due to their ongoing battles with the development path they chose ahead of the F1 2022 season, there has been talk of ‘radical’ changes in the pipeline.
The recent return of James Allison as Mercedes’ technical director has only added to the hype that Mercedes are closing in on a fight with Red Bull at the front of the grid again.
But, as F1 prepares for a busy period of five races in six weeks, Wolff has made a move to calm expectations.
He was eager to point out one positive performance at the Australian Grand Prix is not an indicator of future success and also said “small steps forward” will be the objective in the coming races.
“We’ve had a few weeks off from racing but both factories have been hard at work,” Wolff said in his latest Mercedes preview.
“We’ve tried to maximise this period, bringing planned development to the car and extracting as much as possible from our learnings so far.
“Australia showed that we are making progress, although we need to be cautious about reading too much into a single result.
“But the signs in Melbourne were still encouraging and that has been a good motivator for the whole team heading into this gap in the calendar.
“Over the next races, we want to keep on making small steps forward.
“The car will continue to evolve in the coming weeks, as we steadily bring performance and upgrades to the track. We’re excited to see their impact, but we know there is no magic bullet.”
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Formula 1 has also introduced a new format for the first sprint weekend of the season, replacing the rather redundant FP2 session on a Saturday with a sprint shoot-out session that will take place prior to the sprint itself later in the day.
Wolff is hoping the format change will bring more excitement to a track which has already got a solid reputation for causing chaos and drama.
“The racing in Baku is always dramatic and entertaining,” Wolff added.
“It’s a challenging track with the walls close, so there’s no room for error.
“We also have our first F1 Sprint weekend of the season with a tweaked format. It’s an interesting challenge for us to tackle, with only a single practice session to be ready for two qualifying sessions and races spread across Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“Hopefully this will mean more excitement and action for fans to enjoy.”