Toto Wolff’s early Australian GP prediction as Mercedes chase ‘fundamental change’

Michelle Foster
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton leads George Russell

Mercedes are under the pump this season.

Toto Wolff concedes Mercedes are missing “something” when it comes to unlocking the potential of their F1 car, and they’ve been looking for “two years” already.

But the Mercedes boss is “100% sure” that the team can unlock performance as soon as the next race: the Australian Grand Prix on March 24.

Mercedes chasing this ‘fundamental change for two years’

Lacking downforce and pace through the high-speed corners, Mercedes’ troubles have been compounded by the return of the bouncing that have blighted previous campaigns.

The difficulties with the W15 have opened up the prospect of a second successive winless season for the Brackley squad, and what would be Hamilton’s third on the trot.

Wolff admits there’s is “something” they still need to find to unlock the car’s potential, but it’s something they’ve spent two and a half years looking for already.

“So the thing it’s been two and a half years that we are chasing this fundamental change,” he said.

“It’s been two years that there is something we need to spot, and that’s the thing to unlock. We have just got to work.

“It’s not through lack of trying. We’ve pushed so hard and we’re going to give it a massive, massive go now in the next week, with more data to understand.

“We are going to come back to Melbourne strong. We are on a mission on this one. And I am 100 per cent sure that we are going to unlock that performance gap.” recommends

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

George Russell highlights concerning Mercedes W15 trend after Saudi Arabian GP

But with the return of porpoising despite putting an almost all-new car on the track, Wolff revealed the car on the track is “not” correlating with the simulation numbers.

He refuted suggestions Mercedes had been too confident that they had made the right steps with the 2024 car.

“I think we had so many unknowns in the last year where we start ‘okay this could be a reason, and this could be a reason, and this could be a reason’ and we fix that,” he said.

“I can see from the sensors that we have what we needed.

“But there is still this behaviour of the car in a certain speed range that the sensors and simulation say this is where we should have the downforce and we are not having it.

“This team has not been overconfident. We were probably the other way around and see the glass half empty always. That is the attitude to fix it.”

With the team suffering in the high-speed corners at the Jeddah circuit, Wolff again pointed to correlation as that was “something which we don’t understand.

“We know that we have a smaller rear wing, we’re compensating what we’re losing through the corners. But it’s just at high speed where we’re losing all the lap time.

“I think that’s a biggie. There’s only so much you can tune here.

“Our simulations point us in a direction and this is the kind of set-up range that we then choose, where you put the right rear wing on.

“I think you’ll gain a few tenths or not if you get the set-up right or wrong, but there’s not a massive corridor of performance. It’s more a fundamental thing, that we believe that the speed should be there. We measure the downforce but we don’t find it in lap time.”

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

Read next: Lewis Hamilton’s father addresses claim he kept huge Ferrari deal secret from family