‘It doesn’t make any sense’ – Toto Wolff sheds latest light on Mercedes W15 troubles

Michelle Foster
Toto Wolff speaks to the media with a prominent Mercedes logo alongside him

Toto Wolff did not originally plan to attend the Japanese GP

Despite having more downforce on the W15 than its predecessor, Toto Wolff admits that’s not translating into lap time and it “doesn’t make any sense”.

After two years of trying to make their ground-effect aerodynamic philosophy work, Mercedes implemented major changes during the off-season to create a better-balanced W15.

‘I see you looking at me like, ‘What the hell!’ Now imagine what we think’

Redesigning the chassis and incorporating totally reconfigured sidepod shapes, Mercedes also introduced a pushrod rear suspension layout, moved the cockpit back 10cm, and made changes to the front and rear wings.

It was, they hoped, the start of a resurgence.

But four races into the season the team has yet to reach the podium with their best result being George Russell’s P5 in Bahrain. At best the fourth fastest car, at worst only fifth, the W15 has not yielded the performance gains that Mercedes expected.

Much has been said about their correlation issues with the wind tunnel and CFD simulations showing downforce levels that the team seemingly could not replicate on the track.

But according to Wolff, sensors have revealed their on-track downforce levels have improved compared to last year and by as much as “70 points”, but for some reason it’s not showing in the lap time.

“Everything over these two years which we have seen points to that there should be much more downforce than we believe it is,” he said. “And now we’ve measured the downforce and it is there.

“But we’re just not able to extract the lap time out of it that we should, and that the simulations show us.

“And it’s not trivial. I see you looking at me like, ‘What the hell!’ Now imagine what we think.”

He added: “We are measuring downforce with our sensors and pressure tabs, and it’s saying to us that we have 70 points more downforce in a particular corner in Melbourne than we had last year.

“But, on the lap time, it is not one kilometre per hour faster. It doesn’t make any sense. So, where’s the limitation?

“I think we wanted to tick some few boxes to understand: is there any limitation that we have spotted? And I think there is.”

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But while the team was seventh and ninth in Suzuka with Russell ahead of Hamilton, Wolff insisted there were positives in the team’s performance.

“We had an atrocious first stint, which we need to analyse why,” he said. “Very good second and third stint, and that is the positive that we take from the race.

“It is live testing now for us. We’ve been on the back foot and besides our issues for two seasons, and now we’ve taken a different direction and I think this is happening.”

He is adamant they have a “much better, definitely much better” understanding of the car, adding: “Lots more data to point us in the right direction, even if it’s not reflected in the result.

“The experiments have worked. I think we have a clear direction even though the qualifying and race result doesn’t reflect it at all.”

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