Toto Wolff’s ‘some had to go’ response to Mercedes losing key personnel

Michelle Foster
Toto Wolff in the team boss press conference

Mercedes continue to struggle in F1's ground-effect aerodynamic era

Losing Loïc Serra and Jerome d’Ambrosio to Ferrari, Toto Wolff isn’t worried about the loss of key personnel as he insists some people “had to go” as Mercedes bring in others.

Mercedes have struggled in Formula 1’s ground-effect aerodynamic era with just one since the beginning of 2022 while this season, even with a heavily-revised W15, neither Lewis Hamilton nor George Russell have stepped onto a Grand Prix podium yet.

‘We’re in an upward trajectory with the motivation, the energy’

Entering the third year, the team has recently lost key personnel of which the most notable has been Hamilton.

The Briton announced back in February that he’d be joining Ferrari next season, prompting speculation Mercedes could face a mass exodus.

While that hasn’t transpired, they have lost at least two other people to Ferrari in performance director Serra who will head Ferrari’s chassis performance engineering department and D’Ambrosio who has signed as Fred Vasseur’s deputy.

On Friday, the team also confirmed the departure of chief aerodynamicist Gioacchino Vino, who has officially begun his six months of gardening leave. His next destination has yet to be confirmed.

But despite losing three key people, Mercedes motorsport boss Wolff insists the Brackley squad are in a “good spot” as they’re also recruiting “fresh” personnel.

“We’re in a really good spot, because we had eight consecutive championships and then it started to deteriorate and part of that is also human component,” he told Sky F1.

“And I think how it’s shaping up now some wanted to go, some we had to go, and in the same time we’re adding fresh joiners.

“All of that with the leadership of James [Allison], who does so well, he’s such an inspiration for the team, that I feel we’re in an upward trajectory with the motivation, the energy and the competence.”

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‘You can look pretty poor if you’re not getting it together’

Vino’s departure, the most recent on Mercedes’ list, comes in the wake of the team’s disappointing start to the 2024 championship.

But while the drivers are yet to stand on the podium, Wolff believes that’s the result of small margins having a big impact with the field closer than every before.

“You’ve got to add downforce and you got to add performance on to the car. But I think there’s a bit more to uncover,” he said.

“I think we’re getting a little bit too hot or we a little bit too cold on the tyres, and that affects the situation.

“But I’d rather have the driver saying the car is really good and we’re couple of tenths then the other way around.

“But you just got to look at Formula 1 in a different way these days – it’s just so competitive. There are 10 good teams and three-tenths off two years ago and you would have been third and fourth. Three-tenths off now is seventh and eighth.

“It’s what we wanted Formula 1 to be but you can look pretty poor if you’re not getting it together.”

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