Mercedes’ Toto Wolff admits ‘reality’ team’s F1 cars are off the pace -Dlight News

Mercedes' Toto Wolff admits 'reality' team's F1 cars are off the pace

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has accepted the “reality” that his Formula One cars are not good enough to challenge their main rivals this season. At least he knows where W14’s bugs are. “We understand, crystal clear,” Wolff said at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Friday. “There are no miracles in this game. . . . I don’t think we can beat the teams in front of us, that’s the reality.” Wolff’s comments came a day after seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton said Mercedes’ pace was so far off it would need three teams to break out. A race that he only has a chance to win. Red Bull edged two-time defending world champions Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez 1-2 in the season-opener in Bahrain two weeks ago. Fernando Alonso finished a surprising third. Aston Martin and Carlos Sainz Jr were fourth for Ferrari. Hamilton was 51 seconds behind Verstappen in fifth, with team-mate George Russell 56 seconds behind in seventh. Both places would have been worse if Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc had not had an engine failure near the end. “We need to do a better job,” Wolff said. We have to set strong goals internally, because we know where the deficit is. But I don’t want to talk about it publicly because it just puts (more) pressure (on).” Hamilton was critical of Mercedes after Bahrain, telling a BBC podcast that Mercedes had not listened to him about the development of this year’s car. Understands the frustration. “We know emotions are at play. With him, with me, with a lot of people. Other people on the team. We wear our hearts on our sleeves,” Wolff said. “We know emotions can run high. We have tough love … and no one on the team will ever take it on the chin.” Wolff knows that Mercedes made a mistake in car development after Russell won their only race last year. Mercedes struggled with ground effects known as “porpoising” and Russell was fourth in the 2022 standings. Hamilton was sixth. The 2023 W14 car is very narrow. The bodywork, known in F1 as the “zero-sidepod” concept, but Mercedes essentially produced a flawed car. “We were proven wrong, very simply,” Wolfe said of sticking with the same concept after misreading the information. “The stopwatch is never wrong and we look at the data to see where we are missing and need to improve.” Although changing the chassis is not possible due to budget caps, he thinks the aerodynamics can be improved. “Overall we’re not happy about the amount of downforce, the mechanical balance,” Wolff said. “We can eliminate a lot of performance loss because we know (the direction to go in).” Hamilton said he was still determined to negotiate a new contract and remained firm in his belief he could win again. “I have full confidence (he will),” Wolfe said. “I don’t think Lewis will leave Mercedes. He is at a stage in his career where we trust each other, we have built a great bond. We have. There is no reason to doubt each other, although this is a difficult step.” But Wolff admitted 38-year-old Hamilton – who holds the F1 record with 103 wins – could look elsewhere if he doesn’t find a competitive car that can win races over the next two seasons. “As a driver, though, if he wants to win another championship he has to make sure he has the car,” Wolff said. “And if we can’t demonstrate that we can give him a car in the next two years, he needs to look everywhere. I don’t mind if that happens.”
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