Toto Wolff warns of ‘setbacks’ as Mercedes put W15 duvet problem ‘to bed’

Michelle Foster
Mercedes W15 front wing and nose assembly

Mercedes W15 front wing and nose assembly

Mercedes are solving the W15’s issues but Toto Wolff has warned there could be “setbacks” as one duvet isn’t large enough for “feet and head at this stage”.

Putting a heavily revised car on the track this season in the W15, Mercedes spoke of a “real race car” and one that could “potentially challenge” at the sharp end of the grid.

Toto Wolff: I don’t think that the duvet is large enough

To date, though, the team’s only podium has been Lewis Hamilton’s P2 in the rain-affected Chinese sprint where qualifying was all but a wash-out, with their Grand Prix results falling short at P5.

The unpredictable nature of the new car has left the drivers complaining about a lack of rear-stability in the fast corners, Hamilton declaring they are “miles off” and “in a different category”, only to then complain about the low-speed corners in Australia.

“We’re slow in the low-speed this weekend,” he said back in Melbourne. “whereas in the last race [Jeddah], we were bad in the high-speed, good in the lower stuff. A real struggle this weekend.”

It’s a line Mercedes may yet have to walk in Canada this weekend as the Circuit Gilles Villeueves has a variety of slow and high-speed corners from the 60kph Turn 10 hairpin to Turn 12’s 285kph attack.

“I think what we’re doing now is probably solving that,” team principal Wolff told the media including PlanetF1.com in Monaco. “I don’t think that the duvet is large enough to cover feet and head at that stage. But we’re getting there.

“And Montreal is a little bit of an outlier for track. We’re going to add something and we’re going to add something for Barcelona. So just try to chip away, bearing in mind that could be also setbacks.”

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That ‘duvet’ analogy was previously brought up by tech boss James Allison who explained that Mercedes don’t want to resolve one issue only to expose another, as one does with a duvet that’s too short at one or both ends.

“I think we’re gradually getting there,” he said last month. “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.”

Mercedes have already taken steps with the new Monaco GP front wing that was run by George Russell, which will also be fitted to Hamilton’s car in Montreal.

Wolff added: “I think we were that close in qualifying when you look at the gaps… probably much closer in the race. But at the end… I think overall the trajectory is going in the right direction. I think we’ve understood where the balance of the car needs to be.

“We’ve been bringing bits and pieces in order to enhance that and as I said yesterday saw the trajectory going up, but it’s maybe like a shell, right? So it’s going to be up and down, better tracks, worse tracks, so we’re absolutely happy with the approach.

“So the thing is that you just got to chip away performance by performance. McLaren did a sensational step last year from one race to the other. They kept adding performance on a concept that functioned. Ferrari has been doing it step by step by step and we did it very well last year.

“This is where I see ourselves. And that’s something that we have absolutely as an objective in the short term as well.”

Mercedes remain fourth in the Constructors’ Championship on 96 points, well down on championship leaders Red Bull’s 276.

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