‘You see progress’ – Toto Wolff believes Mercedes W15 deficit to the front is ‘getting smaller’

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton rides the Imola kerbs

Lewis Hamilton: I wouldn't say it's depressing - it's just a patience game

Although sixth and eighth on the Imola grid is by no means Mercedes’ target, Toto Wolff is convinced Mercedes’ gap to the leaders is “getting smaller” following their latest batch of upgrades.

Updating the W15 at the Miami Grand Prix, Mercedes put half their upgrade package on the car before bringing the second half to Imola for this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

‘We see that the lead of others is getting smaller’

But while from the outside it may not look to be a game-changer, George Russell, sixth place in qualifying where he was just under half a second off the pace set by Max Verstappen, raved about the changes.

“The car is feeling probably the best it has felt all season, to be honest, especially on such a challenging circuit like this,” he said in response to a question posed by PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher.

“I feel confident, we know it’s directionally correct.”

On a weekend in which every team excluding RB update their 2024 cars, Mercedes’ motorsport boss Wolff believes Mercedes have made inroads.

“If you look at the gap to the front and our closest competitors, you see progress,” said the Austrian.

“P6 and P8 are not the positions we want to be in. We have been saying that for a while, but we see that the lead of others is getting smaller.

“It takes time and we have to be patient, that’s the reality at the moment. We know we have developments in the pipeline that will improve the balance of the car.

“Even though our positions are not good enough now, we are moving in the right direction. During the race, we will focus on maximising the package we have now and try to score good points.”

Technical director James Allison backed up Wolff’s claim that while the positions on the grid may not be what’s desired, Mercedes are moving forward.

“I think we’re gradually getting there,” he said. “This track is probably one of the easier ones in that regard because the range of cornering speed is not that high.

“It’s a thing that all of us face and I think we’ve been a little slower than others to address it. But I think that you’ll see over the coming races that will be a thing that increasingly we put to bed.”

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Lewis Hamilton: I wouldn’t say it’s depressing…

P8 in qualifying where he was 0.758s off the pace, Lewis Hamilton’s assessment wasn’t quite as positive. He does, however, believe Mercedes have found a direction “forward” in the wind tunnel that will pay dividends in time on the track.

“I wouldn’t say it’s depressing – it’s just a patience game,” he said.

“You are just making do with what you have, making the most of the tools that you have at your disposal today, tomorrow and this weekend. But it is really encouraging that we are seeing progress back in the factory and the wind tunnel.

“We do have new components coming and that’s always an exciting part of the processes: trying lots of different things and then finding out what works and what doesn’t.

“And the fact that we do have kind of a direction forwards, and we’ve tested it on the simulator, then you’re just like itching to get those bits.”

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