Wolff words “pessimistic” as Mercedes tipped to double-down on concept decision

Toto Wolff’s analysis of the F1 Sao Paulo Grand Prix was “pessimistic” because it may help Mercedes in finalising their concept for next season’s car, says Naomi Schiff.
Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand
Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director. …

Mercedes team principal Wolff despondently described last weekend in Brazil as his worst in 13 years.

Lewis Hamilton finished eighth and George Russell retired from 11th, a stark drop-off after Mercedes had claimed a podium finish in Mexico.

Schiff said on the Sky F1 podcast: “We all heard Toto’s words. It seemed that he was not in a good place.

“I think those words were quite strong. I’m not sure if it was an emotional reaction.

“They lacked pace, they used up the tyres which is uncharacteristic for their car, and they had reliability issues. A lot of things went wrong but they had two podiums, they were moving in a positive trajectory.

“Although it was a dramatic result, it seems like it may be a once-off.

“We’ve seen that car, in the past, as Toto described it ‘on a knife-edge’.

“I’m sure they’re having major debriefs now.

“I’m not sure if we should take Toto’s reaction with a pinch of salt. I think it was pessimistic outlook.

“Recent history suggests they aren’t in such a terrible place.”

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil,
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd…

Schiff believes the dreadful Brazil weekend could aid Mercedes’ decision over their concept for next year's W15: “There has been doubt on the concept perspective.

“Do they stick to this concept? Do they not?

“They had gone in the direction that they weren’t. But when the car starts performing positively they have doubts about the choice that they made.

“This was a learning curve.”

Damon Hill added: “They know it’s wrong, they’ve admitted that.”

Their ‘zeropod’ philosophy is widely expected to be ditched in 2024 for a design more similar to Red Bull’s RB19.

Mercedes have moved James Allison back into the role of technical director, while Mike Elliott has left the team.

Hill said: “There are key people who have drifted away from the team. Are we seeing the effects?

“In America they looked great except they were disqualified.

“Maybe they erred on the side of safety too much. These cars are incredible fickle. The F1 stands for Fickle, at the moment, in Formula 1.

“Everyone is up and down. In previous races, Aston Martin were nowhere, now suddenly they’re up there and looking good.

“You don’t need much to be out of the window. The exception is Red Bull but maybe even they would say that Singapore caught them out.

“These cars are dependent on precise setup for each track.

“I know Toto operates a no-blame culture but he seemed to take all the blame himself, he was willing to admit that it wasn’t acceptable. It was a tough weekend.”

Schiff said: “There has been confusion with this car, when they set it up, it does things they weren’t expecting,” she said.

“We thought they’d passed that phase.

“This weekend proved again that it’s all about the operational window of where the car does and doesn’t work. They’re still on the fence.

“It is possible that these cars are just so sensitive to setup.”

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