Wolff: ‘You want to strangle yourself’ when this slow

Jon Wilde
Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff staring at a computer screen. Imola April 2022.

Toto Wolff staring at a computer screen at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Imola April 2022.

Toto Wolff has revealed he takes a peculiar pleasure in Mercedes’ struggles – although it also makes you “want to strangle yourself”.

Mercedes are in the unusual position for them of striving desperately to improve their car to get it back on the pace, which this season is being set by Ferrari and Red Bull.

Going into the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, only the fourth race of the campaign, the eight-time consecutive Constructors’ World Champions were already 39 points adrift of leaders Ferrari – and only ahead of Red Bull due to their greater reliability thus far.

It is a challenge Wolff, as team principal, is unaccustomed to – but one he “enjoys” in a strange way despite the obvious anguish the situation causes.

The Austrian was speaking after FP1 at Imola where, even though the circuit was wet and therefore magnified the disparities, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were 4.8 and 7.0 seconds respectively adrift of World Championship leader Charles Leclerc.

George Russell puts in a lap of the Imola circuit. Imola April 2022
Mercedes driver George Russell puts in a lap. the Imola circuit signage in the background. Imola April 2022

“I like getting it wrong because that means you learn so much more and obviously it’s painful while you are in the moment – certainly when I see our car pounding around five seconds off the pace you want to strangle yourself,” said Wolff during an interview on Sky F1.

“As a matter of fact I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy it being bad because over the long run of the regulations we are going to be good.”

One of the big issues for Mercedes has been the ‘porpoising’, the bouncing effect that has become a noticeable feature of Formula 1 this year with the new cars designed for the much-changed regulations.

The World Champions have made their car lighter but Wolff is unsure whether that alleviates or worsens the bouncing issue, which also has a physical effect on the drivers.

“We’ve taken some weight out,” said Wolff. “We don’t know whether taking the weight out actually increases the ‘porpoising’, so it’s literally exploring on the job.

“Not at all how we have done Formula 1 before, but it’s our own doing.”


Wolff also admitted the drivers were having to lift off the accelerator along the straights in FP1 at Imola, when the issue looked particularly troubling.

“We had George bouncing so much he broke the stay on the floor. We have to lift on the straights,” explained the team boss.

“I have never experienced bouncing like this in my life. It’s undriveable.”