Toto Wolff finds huge Bahrain GP silver lining having ‘hoped for more’ in qualifying

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff with a stern look on the pit wall.

Toto Wolff with a stern look.

While Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said they “hoped for more” than P3 on the grid in Bahrain, the race “should be better” as they geared the W15 setup towards race day.

After the off-season of speculation and attempts through testing and practice to work out the pecking order at the start of F1 2024, Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying provided the answers over one lap, as Red Bull’s reigning three-time World Champion Max Verstappen claimed pole ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

For Russell it is P3 on the grid, a result which on the face of it seems positive, but fell below what Wolff had been hoping for heading into qualifying.

Toto Wolff declares Mercedes ‘should be better’ in Bahrain race

However, while qualifying underwhelmed for Wolff, with Lewis Hamilton set to start all the way down in P9, Wolff is optimistic for Mercedes’ race pace, explaining that Mercedes “sacrificed” one-lap pace with that goal in mind.

“P3 is okay, we thought we had a little bit more pace, we were three tenths off pole,” Wolff told Sky F1.

“Yesterday it looked better, but we put the car in a sweet spot for tomorrow’s race, at least this is what we hope. P3 [to] P7, so close the gaps, would have hoped for more.

“I think the setup changes that we made, they contributed to less performance today. At the beginning of qualifying we though, ‘Oh, maybe we’ve taken too much performance off, sacrifice for tomorrow’s race’, but then at the end we got it quite okay with George, but tomorrow should be better.

“But we’re still learning about this car.” recommends

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Hamilton was in good spirits on Thursday after topping the second practice session, but unable to keep pace at the front through qualifying, he faces an afternoon of overtaking if he is to join Russell in pushing for a podium finish.

Wolff was asked whether there was a certain reason why Hamilton managed only P9 on the Bahrain Grand Prix grid, but stressed it is simply a case of “tiny margins”, Hamilton six spots behind Russell after lapping two tenths slower.

“You get the tyres in the optimum window, it’s just two tenths, big difference, and then you’re right in the game,” Wolff added.

Hamilton is embarking on his final season with Mercedes ahead of his blockbuster 2025 Ferrari move.

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