Toto Wolff names Mercedes rival who he ‘applauds’ after huge progress

Michelle Foster
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff on the pit wall. Bahrain February 2023.

Toto Wolff looks out into the pit lane from the Mercedes pit wall during testing. Bahrain February 2023.

Toto Wolff says Aston Martin deserve credit for their 2023 gains, billed to be as much as “two seconds” per lap, after all it’s down to hard work as there is no “magic” in Formula 1.

This season Aston Martin have emerged as Red Bull’s nearest rivals with Fernando Alonso achieving a hat-trick of podiums on his way to third place in the Drivers’ standings, where he sits behind Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

But at a time when Aston Martin concede their deficit to Red Bull is still huge and that there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done, rivals have noted the Silverstone team’s achievements.

“Where we are today,” Wolff said as per Motorsport.com, “we just have to acknowledge that one team has done a better job than all the others, then Aston Martin is the next one to applaud because they’ve just made a big step forward.

“And it’s just because of the good work, there is no magic or something that makes the car mysteriously fast, it’s just solid engineering and all the unique areas, so I think we should aim for the stars.”

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‘All this to create a very competitive midfield’

The Austrian says Aston Martin’s rise up the order is a clear sign that Formula 1’s revamped regulations, together with the budget cap and the aerodynamic testing limits, are doing what they were set out to do.

“This is why we wanted to have a more financially sustainable future,” he said, “with 10 teams that were capable of competing well with the most advantageous aerodynamic restrictions for those behind.

“All this to create a very competitive midfield.”

Last time out in Melbourne, the gap from P1 from P19 in the opening qualifying segment was a mere 1.3s.

Wolff puts Aston Martin’s gains as “two seconds” per lap

But while Wolff says there’s no magic to Aston Martin’s surge, he reckons he’s “never seen” a team make such a big improvement over the winter.

According to the Austrian, Aston Martin have made a two-second gain with Wolff applauding their signing of former Red Bull aerodynamicist Dan Fallows.

“They did a really good job – they hired a Red Bull man who managed to make the car suddenly two seconds faster,” he told OE24.

“A year ago they were 17th and 19th in practice. That proves how good the car is. I’ve never seen such a jump in Formula 1.”

Three races into this season Aston Martin are second in the Constructors’ Championship on 65 points, nine ahead of Mercedes.