Toto Wolff reveals the moment at which Mercedes ‘may as well turn it off’

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton climbs into his W14. Canada June 2023

Mercedes were not always the slick machine they are these days.

Toto Wolff says Mercedes have to maintain their belief they can catch Red Bull in terms of pace this season, otherwise they may as well “turn it off” and focus on next year.

Arguably one of the most improved teams during this year’s championship, Mercedes taking a massive step forward with the introduction of a B-spec car at the Monaco Grand Prix, the Brackley squad seemed to have slashed their deficit to Red Bull only for Max Verstappen to crush them in Austrian Grand Prix.

Such was the Red Bull driver’s advantage on the day he was able to pit for fresh tyres on the penultimate lap to take the fastest lap point, and still won the race by five seconds.

Toto Wolff keen to continue F1 2023 Mercedes development

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was seventh at the line with George Russell P8 with the two swapping positions hours later when the seven-time World Champion was hit with a five-second time penalty for exceeding track limits.

It was a race in which Hamilton gave voice to his frustrations, complaining several times that he couldn’t turn the car with Wolff getting on the radio to tell him that the team knows the car is “bad” and to “please drive it”.

But despite their Austrian setback, Wolff in convinced Mercedes will catch Red Bull before the season is over.

“I maintain the belief because,” he told Autosport, “if I were to say I don’t maintain the belief, then we may as well turn it off and put everything into next year’s car, and be happy to finish in the top 10.

“But you can’t. You just have to continue working.

“We need to take these bad days as good as possible, and try to rebound and come closer. We’ve seen races where we were decent, and I think the gap to Verstappen was 10 seconds in Montreal, which looks much more encouraging that it was [in Austria].”

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Beaten by both Ferraris, Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso at the Red Bull Ring, Wolff believes the current battle will continue to fluctuate depending on which of the teams brings upgrades.

He confirmed Mercedes will have yet more updates for their home race at Silverstone.

“I think what we’re seeing is that the constant is Max in front and then it is between his team-mate, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lando with the upgrade and us,” he added.

“It seems to be changing from race to race, and there’s not quite a pattern that we can discover so far.

“What I hear is that Ferrari and McLaren had an upgrade [in Austria], and that could be one of the explanations. But we’re bringing one next week [to Silverstone].”

Mercedes retained second place in the Constructors’ Championship in Austria but only by three points ahead of Aston Martin. Ferrari closed the gap 22 points.

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