Why Toto Wolff is not looking at McLaren with ‘envy’ as Red Bull’s biggest rivals

Henry Valantine
Toto Wolff and Zak Brown.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has been impressed by McLaren's turnaround in the past year.

Toto Wolff has labelled McLaren’s rise to Formula 1 front-runners a “fantastic recovery story”, saying he is not looking on with “envy” as Mercedes look to catch up.

McLaren started the 2023 season with one of the worst-performing cars but a significant mid-season overhaul saw them take regular podiums come season’s end, and further improvements this season culminated in a race victory for Lando Norris in Miami.

Toto Wolff: McLaren showing what is possible in ‘fantastic recovery story’

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

The Mercedes team principal and CEO explained that his team are actually looking at McLaren as an example of how significant changes have reaped rewards, complimenting their “good engineering” and saying Mercedes “have to have respect” for how they have improved.

With Mercedes acting as power unit suppliers to the Woking-based team, Wolff is pleased to see how well their engines are performing on track, and added that the example of McLaren is one he is looking to for how the eight-time Constructors’ champions need to go about achieving their goals.

“I think it’s a fantastic recovery story,” Wolff told media including PlanetF1.com at Imola.

“When you look at where McLaren was 12 months ago, I think they barely got out of Q1 and now they’re literally fighting fair and square for race victories.

“The car is not only fast, but it’s also very good on the tyres. And for us, first of all, we see the engine goes and the engine is good on the tyres as well, and on the other side the recovery they made is, from what I said, a real backmarker to a frontrunner in less than 12 months, basically from July to April.

“That’s something we are looking at and saying it is possible with the right steps to make a car that is at the end of that front pack to hopefully make a step forward.

More on McLaren and Mercedes as the F1 2024 season unfolds

👉 Who is Andrea Stella? From Michael Schumacher’s engineer to McLaren team principal

👉 F1 2024 power rankings: What is each driver’s average PlanetF1.com driver rating so far?

“First of all, why I love the sport is the stopwatch never lies, and they have done a good job, and we have to have respect [that] from how they’ve done things.

“More competition at the front is good for the sport and it’s good for everyone, so I’m not looking at that with some envy. On the contrary, I’m looking at that and saying, ‘This is what we need to achieve, because they’ve been able to do that.’

“And at the end of the day, I think it’s just good engineering. You’ve got to put one step after the other and they changed the concept late in the winter, I believe, of their car by the time until they brought an upgrade, and since then, they have been adding performance.

“I think this is where we are trying to get to, to a stable platform where we say, ‘Okay, this is what we want from the car, and then the development machine just runs with it.’

“We have been zigzagging a little bit of where we thought we need to have the performance. But one thing in Formula 1 you can’t buy, that is time.

“Once you got it wrong, you’re on the back foot, and then it’s very difficult to leapfrog.”

Read next: Five big Monaco GP questions: the biggest qualifying battle in years and risk of rain?