Toto Wolff explains Mercedes’ most dogged weakness since 2022

Mercedes' double-DNF in Australia was just their fourth scoreless finish of the V6 era in F1

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Toto Wolff admitted Mercedes still aren’t on top of their Formula 1 simulation in their thrid season of the current era of F1 regulations, but stressed the team are pursuing different avenues to fix the issue.

Mercedes‘ returning technical director James Allison, who spent two years away from motorsport from 2021 to 2023, made headlines when he questioned whether the Silver Arrows‘ simulations were up to scratch.

Despite an overhauled car concept, Mercedes haven’t been close to beating Red Bull in 2023 but have also lagged behind Ferrari and McLaren, and making the wrong setup decisions between free practice and qualifying has been a frequent theme.

“Well, on the stopwatch we are,” Wolff told the media when asked whether Mercedes’ simulations are lagging behind their rivals.

“So there is a crook somewhere in the system because we’re measuring downforce much more than we see on the lap time. And that’s something that we have been struggling since those regulations came in 2022.

“So we are at the point now where we are trying new avenues in order to assess how we can really translate the performance that we see in the virtual world into the road which we haven’t been able so far to do.”

DNFs don’t matter

However, Wolff hit back when asked whether Mercedes’ double-DNF in Australia is doubly disappointing given their uncompetitiveness generally in the opening three races of 2024.

Lewis Hamilton pulled up after 15 laps with an engine failure, a blow that could come back to bite him later in the season with that power unit now taken out of his pool for the rest of the year.

George Russell‘s failure to finish was much more controversial though as he hit the barriers after being distracted by Fernando Alonso unexpectedly slowing on the penultimate lap, coming to rest on his side back on the track.

Alonso was hit with a hefty 20-second penalty that dropped him down to eighth, though that didn’t help Mercedes as they recorded just their fourth scoreless race of the V6 era of F1.

Wolff said the team’s uncompetitiveness in 2024 hurt more than that race result:

“My calibration is different, I think we are honest, we know where we are on track and what performance step we need to make,” Wolff added. “And if the car is quick I’m happy, if the car is not quick none of us is happy and whether we DNF or not, it’s a matter of constructor points.

“But we’re looking for pace and George had an accident and Lewis DNFed on the engine which can happen when you go racing cars.”

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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