Toto Wolff won’t be fooled by Mercedes’ double podium at the Spanish Grand Prix, although he does concede he is “cautiously optimistic” that they aren’t in for a repeat of 2022.
Last season Mercedes put the W13 on the podium at the Spanish Grand Prix with George Russell in third place. Believing that was a sure sign they’d resolved the car’s problems, Mercedes were left disappointed when they took a step backwards at the next race in Monaco.
Russell said ahead of this year’s Barcelona race that they wouldn’t fall for that again.
“Last year,” he explained, “we had a really competitive weekend in Barcelona, I think I was on the podium, Lewis was really strong in the race after a puncture, and we came away thinking, ‘you know all of our problems are solved’.
“And we got to the following couple of races and learned that wasn’t the case.”
It begs the question could this year’s Spanish Grand Prix and their double podium, the first in the B-spec W14 with Lewis Hamilton runner-up and Russell third, lead them astray.
“I’m never optimistic. Only fools are optimistic,” Wolff said as per Motorsport.com. “But in general I think it feels different than last year.
“There’s still bouncing and it’s interesting to understand why. But we’ve learned so much over the past 12 months, so in general I have a lot of reasons to be cautiously optimistic.”
The Barcelona race was Mercedes’ second outing in the B-spec W14 with Mercedes securing double points-hauls in both the Monaco and Spanish race.
But while the team has been criticised by some pundits for taking their time axing the zero-pods in favour of a downwash concept, Wolff says it was something “we had to work through.
“We had discovered the direction we’d come to simply didn’t work.
“We are a team of people that won eight consecutive championships and got it wrong last year and tried to find out what it was. We didn’t understand.”
He added to Sky Sports: “We took some decisions to go in another direction. We changed so many parts, maybe variables we don’t completely understand.
“It was a risky move and everybody just pushed forward. I think we just needed the shock at the start of the season to see that this is not going forward.
“There’s lead time – you need to design parts, you need to produce them, and the team back at base did a mega job to produce them and get them in the car.”
Now it’s time to learn about the car.
“We start from zero,” the team boss added. “The learning is tremendously important going forward. This will be part of the continuous journey of my team.
“My perspective is not one season; my perspective is 10 or 20 seasons of this team.
“This is going to be that learning, as painful as it is and annoying as these days feel, it’s just absolutely necessary to establish a sustainable basis.”