Toto Wolff calls for action and analysis after ‘boring’ Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Henry Valantine
Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff in the pit lane. Baku April 2023.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff stands in the pit lane.

Toto Wolff has called for the teams to analyse the weekend in Baku after a “boring” Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday, in which the Mercedes team principal felt it was “nearly impossible to overtake”.

Both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell found themselves on the edge of DRS range behind Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll through the race, but could not get close enough to attack towards the end as they came home sixth and eighth respectively.

Even though Russell largely kept around a second or two behind Stroll for much of the race, he eventually opted to stop for soft tyres late on to set the fastest lap of the race and gain an extra point, with no way past the Aston Martin forthcoming late on.

Sergio Perez took a comfortable victory ahead of Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen at the head of the field, but behind that, the Mercedes team boss was less than impressed with the entertainment on show on Sunday.

“There was no overtaking, even with a big pace difference,” Wolff told reporters in Baku, as per Total Motorsport. “It made it not great entertainment.

“We have to analyse the weekend with the sprint format, whether there’s positives we can take out.”

The key flashpoint from Saturday’s sprint race came when Russell and Verstappen touched on the first lap, leading to a testy exchange between the two after the shortened race and an insult being sent the Mercedes driver’s way by the reigning World Champion.

But aside from the drama from the track itself, Wolff feels the sport needs to look at ways of improving its entertainment factor again moving forward, with seemingly fewer overtakes on show in Baku this year compared to seasons gone by – with 100 metres removed from the DRS zone ahead of this year’s event. recommends

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“At the end it all comes down to racing,” Wolff said.

“It needs the tough battles and I think the highlight you could see yesterday was George and Max being able to battle it out and today there was none of that.

“Even if you were within 0.2 seconds it was very difficult to overtake, it was nearly impossible to overtake unless the other driver makes a mistake.

“We need to really look at it and how we can make it better. Not how we can make it better, we need to look at how we can avoid just a boring race.

“I’m not sure that 100m more DRS would have made a difference.”