Toto Wolff: Verstappen in another galaxy

Max Verstappen produced a grand slam - pole, fastest lap and win - as he wracked up 54th career victory

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Mercedes‘ team principal, Toto Wolff, has said that Max Verstappen was in a different galaxy as he cruised to a crushing 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix victory in the Formula 1 season opener.

The defending world champion’s race was done after he closed off the inside at Turn 1 and from then on, he simply dropped the rest of the field and cantered off into the distance to win by 22 seconds from the runner-up and 46 and 50 seconds ahead of both Mercedes cars.

It’s the kind of form he unleashed on the grid in 2023 as he set the records for wins and points in a season along with the most consecutive wins, lapping around half a second faster than Carlos Sainz in third.

“Far off. I mean, Max was in a different galaxy,” Wolff said of the Dutchman’s drive to Sky Sports F1. “We need to look at ourselves and why we lost so much performance on the harder tyre.

“We got the cooling level wrong and therefore you need to lift and coast and with performance of the tyres, it was a bit of a vicious cycle.”

George Russell during qualifying for 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix | Mercedes / Jiri Krenek
George Russell during qualifying for 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix | Mercedes / Jiri Krenek

Mercedes plagued by problems

Hamilton lapped almost a second slower than Verstappen around the Bahrain International Circuit whilst Russell averaged eight tenths slower across the 57 laps.

The team initially had promise heading into the race but they turned out to be the third quickest team after battling a series of power unit-related issues which Wolff expects them to solve by the time they arrive at the Saudi Arabian GP on March 9.

“I think it’s weird because we had some pace in the car but on the hard tyres today, we didn’t,” Wolff added to Sky Sports F1. “I think there’s many mistakes we’ve found but at the end of the day, we’re learning.

“We have a brand new car and we have seen glimpses of performance but couldn’t any materialise any of that today. So, I’m really keen to look at the data and see what we see what we can do in Saudi [Arabia].”

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