Toto Wolff reveals huge pace deficit in high-speed corners as W15 struggles again

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc overtakes Lewis Hamilton

Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton battle.

Unable to make gains in Saturday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Toto Wolff says Mercedes’ W15 was losing “half-a-second” through the high-speed corners at the Jeddah circuit.

Neither George Russell nor Lewis Hamilton had a great race under the lights with Russell up from seventh to sixth while Hamilton lost a place to finish ninth.

Mercedes lost ‘half a second’ in the high-speed corners

It was a worry for Hamilton given that in the past, race pace has been Mercedes’ strength with the seven-time World Champion saying they were “miles off” in the high-speed corners.

His team boss Wolff has given that a number, 0.5 seconds.

“It is clear that we are struggling with the car in the high-speed corners,” he said. “We are competitive elsewhere but in three corners here, we were losing about half a second.

“It was therefore incredibly difficult for the drivers to attack with.

“We tried something different on the strategy but unfortunately, with the low levels of degradation we saw across the field, it didn’t work out for us.”

With a break now before Formula 1 heads to Australia for round three of the championship, Wolff feels there’s a lot of work for Mercedes to get through behind the scenes.

“There is so much learning we can take from these first two race weekends. We need to get our heads down to analyse, understand and improve,” he said.

“It’s clear that we’ve got a lot of work to do but these tough days make you better. Everyone is committed to getting the car into a better place and we look forward to coming back stronger in Australia.” recommends

F1 2024: Head-to-head qualifying record between team-mates

F1 2024: Head-to-head race statistics between team-mates

‘That hasn’t been our competitors getting faster; that’s been us getting slower’

George Russell also delivered a damning assessment of Mercedes’ pace, saying the team got “slower” as the weekend progressed.

Having shown decent pace in FP2 where Russell was only two-tenths down on Max Verstappen, when it got to qualifying he was eight-tenths down on the championship leader.

“We’re still really trying to understand this car because we have shown true performance at points over the last two weekends,” he said.

“FP1, straight out of the box, we were top of the timesheets and always in the top three. FP2, P2. Then, both weekends, the pace just falling away from us.

“That hasn’t been our competitors getting faster; that’s been us getting slower. So, we need to understand why that is. But it’s fine margins now.

“It’s so close with ourselves, McLaren, Aston. Charles is just a smidge ahead. We just need to tap into it a bit more.”

Mercedes are sixth in the Constructors’ Championship with 26 points, already a massive 61 down on Red Bull.

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