1 February 2015
Mercedes F1 2015 Launch: Wolff knows danger of resting on laurels
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says that there is no complacency in Brackley or Brixworth as the Silver Arrows launches the defence of its F1 world titles.
Toto Wolff is under no illusion that his AMG Mercedes F1 team will face a tougher time of it in 2015, having all but demolished the opposition in year one of the sport's brave new world.
Retaining an unchanged line-up of world champion Lewis Hamilton and runner-up Nico Rosberg, as well as the technical team that put together the all-conquering W05 Hybrid, Mercedes starts the 2015 campaign as favourites to repeat at the front of the field, but Wolff admits that there is no complacency amongst the ranks in Brackley.
“It would be so dangerous to rest on our laurels after 2014 - but none of us have any sense that things will be easier now,” he insisted, “On the contrary, our motivation is as high as ever. There's a famous Babe Ruth quote I always say to people: "Yesterday's home runs don't win today's games", [and] we are fully aware that success is not only hard-won but can also be short-lived without the right approach.”
This season, the second under the turbo V6 engine rules, marks the beginning of an evolutionary process for the cutting-edge hybrid racing formula introduced for 2014, but being able to use 'evolution' instead of 'revolution' doesn't necessarily mean things are easier for the teams. Wolff admits that the ongoing regulatory requirements, coupled with ambitious internal performance targets and the need to innovate to gain advantage under a stable rulebook, mean that the winter has been as challenging as ever for Mercedes.
"From the outside, winter might look like a rest time in F1, but this couldn't be further from the truth,” he explained as the opening day of pre-season testing got underway in Spain, "Long before the end of last season, development work on our 2015 car became the main priority. The winter months are the most intense, with everybody at Brackley and Brixworth working around the clock to prepare for the season ahead. Their dedication is inspiring.
"A lot of things have been put in place - not by one individual but by many individuals working as a team - and this has been about taking the right decisions at the right time, trying to avoid mistakes and, if they do happen, quickly analysing why. Even if, on paper, things are looking good, we will not fall into the trap of being overly optimistic or trying to make crystal ball predictions because this is not how the sport works. In fact, this is possibly the most brutally honest sport because the stopwatch never lies.”
Although team footage of the new W06 Hybrid undergoing shakedown runs at a snowy Silverstone emerged ahead of the Jerez test, the car was officially unveiled in the pit-lane ahead of the track action, with Nico Rosberg then being charged with the first real run of 2015.
"The launch of a new car is an exciting moment for everybody involved,” Wolff commented, “To see the product of all that hard work turn a wheel for the first time is a great source of pride - and rightly so. However, there is a long road ahead before we reach the first race. We must build a fast, reliable racing car to be able to compete with rivals whose ability and competitiveness can never be underestimated.
“At this point, every team is on zero points. The only thing we know for sure is that we have consistency in our driver line-up for the third year running and they know what's expected of them, just as we know what they expect from us. We're looking forward to seeing them push each other and the team forward. It will be another fascinating battle between the two but we must wait until Melbourne until we know if we have provided them with a car that allows them to fight each other for wins."
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