Toto Wolff reveals Mercedes W15 breakthrough despite continued correlation issues

Thomas Maher
Toto Wolff, Mercedes, 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Toto Wolff is taking the positives from Mercedes' work to unlock their W15's performance.

Toto Wolff is choosing to see the positives of Mercedes’ recent work to figure out why the performance of the W15 isn’t matching their expectations.

While the Mercedes W15 is a more pleasant machine to drive than its most recent predecessors, the performance level of the car doesn’t appear to be a major step forward despite the change to a different concept of design philosophy.

Toto Wolff: We’ve taken many potential root causes out of the equation

With team boss Toto Wolff open about the fact Mercedes have had to turn to experimenting with the setups for their W15 as they attempt to put the car into a performance window that matches its apparent potential, there doesn’t appear to have been that critical breakthrough just yet.

But Wolff is clinging to the positives of the situation, revealing that many of the ideas behind why the car isn’t behaving have been ruled out as a result of the work being undertaken in the wind tunnel.

“When I look at the positives, I think we took many potential root causes out of the equation,” Wolff said of Mercedes addressing the weaknesses of its recent ground-effect creations.

“We weren’t sure about our suspension. We weren’t sure about the stiffness of our gearbox carrier. We had a vibrating steering rack. All of those things have disappeared.

“But, fundamentally, whatever we see in the tunnel doesn’t correlate with what’s happening on the track.”

As a result, Wolff believes the issue stems down to how the data from the wind tunnel is being interpreted and applied, as opposed to individual people or departments heading the design in the wrong direction.

“It is not a single person that says, ‘I would interpret that data in this way’ and because of dogma, because of dogmatism, we’re not making any progress,” he said.

“I don’t see dogmatism. I see an open environment where people share, where people take themselves by the nose and say, ‘Maybe in my area we are making mistakes’.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

F1 team principals: How long has each team boss been in charge?

Toto Wolff: How the Mercedes F1 boss built his billion-dollar fortune

Toto Wolff: We can’t see what’s happening with the car

The Austrian explained that, in his opinion, there’s nothing missing in terms of what the W15 needs to become a top performer – but there are complications involved in unlocking its potential.

“It’s so tough in my career – in everything I’ve done before – be it in finance and investment, that you know which screws to turn,” he said.

“Sometimes it takes time because, back in my Williams days, I knew what was missing.

“But, here, I don’t think we are missing something. It is just a complication of what’s happening with the car that we can’t see. It’s like an on-off switch.”

With Mercedes going without any points collected from the Australian Grand Prix, due a power unit failure on Lewis Hamilton’s car and a crash for George Russell, Wolff said it’s clear McLaren and Ferrari have each made big steps forward in performance from last season.

“Yyou see the progress that McLaren and Ferrari have made,” Wolff said, reflecting on the fact Mercedes led the 2023 Australian Grand Prix in the early stages – a feat they couldn’t come close to repeating this season.

“That is the difference between last year and this year. This was a pretty good weekend for us last year. We were leading at the beginning P1 and P2.

“So, we’ve got to really dig deep because it is brutally painful.”

Read Next: ‘How good are Red Bull really’? – Hard-hitting question asked after Max Verstappen setback