Toto Wolff reveals change of plan for Japanese GP amid ‘difficult times’ for Mercedes

Oliver Harden
Toto Wolff speaks to the media with a prominent Mercedes logo alongside him

Toto Wolff did not originally plan to attend the Japanese GP

Toto Wolff has revealed that he decided to attend the Japanese GP to be with Mercedes during “difficult times” after a troubled start to the F1 2024 season. 

Having been restricted to just a single race win since F1’s ground effect rules were introduced in 2022, Mercedes had aimed to return to winning ways in 2024 with the new-look W15 car.

Japanese GP: Toto Wolff determined to lead Mercedes through ‘difficult times’

Despite technical director James Allison’s hope that the team would be “in with a shout” of winning both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships, Mercedes remain without a podium finish after the opening three races of the new season.

Wolff had initially planned to miss this weekend’s race at Suzuka, but it emerged on Tuesday that the team boss would travel to Japan after all.

Explaining his change of plan on Friday, Wolff revealed that he wanted to be by the team’s side after a disappointing start to the season, with Mercedes planning a number of experiments with the car at Suzuka. recommends

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He told Formula 1: “I felt that in the difficult times I wanted to be with the race team, especially with us doing quite some experiments with the car today and tomorrow.

“This is the better place [to be].”

Expanding on his decision in the team principals’ press conference, Wolff insisted that he remains motivated by the prospect of leading Mercedes back to the top, having overseen a record run of eight consecutive Constructors’ titles from the start of F1’s V6 hybrid era in 2014.

He explained: “I had planned not to come to Japan because there’s so much on back in Europe, things to do.

“But then I felt not coming to Japan was the wrong choice. I think it’s important to be with the race team.

“It does me good also to be close to the action. We are experimenting with a few things and then being part of the team really gives me energy. I hope the other way around too, so that’s why I decided against staying in Europe.

“We’re a sports team. We’ve won eight times in a row and that hasn’t been done before.

“You have periods where you struggle like any other sports team and you can’t win every time. That’s why this is a super challenge.

“It’s not a race, it’s not one single season and then you come back out on top, but it’s the third one in a row.

“But I remain absolutely convinced that we will be looking back in a few years and saying that was so tough but so important for the development of the team from maybe an organisational standpoint, from re-evaluating our tools and systems, which clearly don’t work as good as they did in previous regulations.”

Wolff’s comments come after Lewis Hamilton, who announced in February that he will join Ferrari in 2025, hailed his best day yet with the W15 at Suzuka, having been classified in the top five in both practice sessions.

Yet Hamilton warned against Mercedes experimenting too much with his car over the remainder of the weekend, claiming the team could “mess it up” if too many changes are made overnight.

He said: “It was a great session, it was a really good session for us.

“It was the best session that we’ve had this year, it’s the best the car has felt this year so far. So far, pretty positive.

“I was really excited because this is a circuit that every driver loves to drive. In the last couple of years, we’ve had a really difficult car and a difficult balance to drive here.

“And given the difficult last few races we’ve had, great work has been done this past week and we just seem to have hit the ground a bit more in a sweeter spot.

“So I haven’t really made any changes since [FP1].

“I think we’ve got a better platform or baseline to start from, so as long as we don’t make too many changes and mess it up…

“I think probably just stay where we are and hopefully we’ll get a [good weekend].”

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