Mercedes boss Wolff full of praise for Red Bull rival Max Verstappen: A different level

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff praised Max Verstappen at the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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Toto Wolff admitted Mercedes still don’t know how far they are behind Red Bull, after Max Verstappen extended his win-streak to three with a dominant 2023 Spanish Grand Prix victory.

However, Wolff also praised Verstappen and said the Dutchman was in perfect harmony with the team when asked by the media how far his Mercedes team is behind Red Bull.

“I simply don’t know,” Wolff told select members of the press at the 2023 Spanish GP, including Total-Motorsport.com. “Verstappen‘s just on a different level and that is the reality of a meritocracy.

“They’ve just done the best job, the driver’s driving excellent and they are just far away and that is something which only we have in our hands to get on with the job.”

The Mercedes boss also praised their Milton Keynes rivals for making their complicated new floor design – first seen in Monaco – work.

“For me when it’s complex, if it’s fast, it’s good and that floor is certainly very fast,” Wolff added. “I asked my engineering group and they said there’s interesting things that they one can analyse from the airflow functions, but they weren’t convinced about the beauty.”

Wolff doesn’t regret continuing ‘no sidepods’ design

With Red Bull having scored more points than second and third in the constructors championship combined, and Verstappen crushing Sergio Perez three races in a row, plenty of fans have already written off the 2023 title battles.

Verstappen won the Spanish GP by 24 seconds from Lewis Hamilton, though George Russell was able to hold off Sergio Perez and score a double-podium for Mercedes.

However, the gap at the front could’ve been even more with Verstappen only unleashing the true potential of his Red Bull right at the end when chasing the fastest lap.

George Russell gets dialled into the Mercedes W14 in pre-season testing in Bahrain | Jiri Krenek / Mercedes F1 Team

Wolff conceded it’s Mercedes‘ failure that’s led to this situation, after the team continued their unique ‘no sidepods’ concept from 2022 but abandoned it before the first race of 2023 had even started.

Despite criticism for wasting another off-season on a flawed design, he hit back and said Mercedes needed to give the concept a fair shot

“I think we had to work through this because we had to discover that the direction we’ve gone just simply didn’t work,” Wolff said.

“We are a team of people that won eight consecutive championships that got it wrong last year. And we tried to find out what it was, we didn’t understand and things got better towards the end of the season, regulations were changed which we misinterpreted, so we start from zero.

“The learning is tremendously important going forward. I think this will be part of the continuous journey of this team and my perspective is not of one season, my perspective is 10 or 20 seasons of this team.

“And that learning, as painful as it and as annoying as these days are, it’s just absolutely necessary.”

Where is the next F1 2023 race?

With the F1 circus finished in Spain, the next race is the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix which will be held at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal over the weekend of June 16-18.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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