Wolff is ‘puzzled’ by Mercedes’ ‘bad surprise box’

Wolff is ‘puzzled’ by Mercedes’ ‘bad surprise box’

Toto Wolff was left confused about Mercedes

Toto Wolff was baffled by Mercedes’ poor performance in Sao Paulo last weekend. Photo: Russell Batchelor/XPB

Toto Wolff described Mercedes’ performance over the course of last weekend’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix as a “nightmare” that left him scratching his head.

After Lewis Hamilton finished second behind Red Bull driver Max Verstappen over the previous two weekends in the US and Mexico – despite being disqualified from the former due to excessive wear on his W14 – the seven-time Formula 1 champion found himself struggling to catch up. Minor points about Interlagos.

Hamilton was seventh in the race, likely overtaken by Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo in the AlphaTauri within a lap or two, and eighth in the main event, 62 seconds behind Verstappen.

With George Russell finishing fourth in the sprint race and retiring with an overheated power unit in the Grand Prix, team principal Wolff described the overall weekend as a personal worst in 13 years.

Wolff was at least able to point out other anomalies this season with rival cars, such as Aston Martin’s declining performance with its AMR23 that gave Fernando Alonso six podium finishes in the first eight races, or Red Bull’s difficult weekend in Singapore, the only blemish in Verstappen’s winning streak of 15 wins in the last 16 Grands Prix.

Conversely, McLaren has gone in the opposite direction, from a car that “wasn’t able to get out of Q1 at times”, as Wolff said, to one that is “now chasing Max”.

“It (the car) is sometimes a bad surprise box for all of us,” said Wolff, whose team “probably had it as bad as some of the other teams.”

Wolff explained that there will be a fundamental redesign of the car that Hamilton cannot wait to see the back of, and with the team boss already hoping that this will be the start of the 2024 season.

Wolf added: “At least we don’t have any expectations, or at least we know that this confirms that the path of fundamental change is the right one.”

“Last year, we came out of the Interlagos weekend absolutely at the top of our game, beating the competition on Saturday and Sunday.

“At the time it was like ‘Are we doing the right thing by continuing with the structure we had?’

“Now it’s very clear. This is terrible for the whole team, and I hope we start the new season focusing on what’s new
car.

He continued: “What we know is that we are completely changing the car, and we have become exceptional compared to the past eight years where we were at the front, cohesive, with the structure and people performing well at the front.” .

He added: “Winning championships or not is something written on a different piece of paper, but (Sao Paulo) confirms more that the steps we have taken are necessary.”

The bottom line is that Wolff cannot understand why the W14’s behavior is so different from one weekend to the next, calling it “puzzling”.

“From a very fast car, well balanced, with our drivers happy, to a nightmare,” Wolff said. “How is this even possible? What is not true?”

“I wouldn’t be surprised that when we analyzed the cars there was a mechanical issue with the way they were set up or the way… I don’t know what the reason was.”

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