Mercedes chief Toto Wolff calls out ‘boring’ Azerbaijan GP

The Mercedes chief says the sport must react to lack of action in Baku

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Toto Wolff has called for Formula 1 bosses to analyse the reasons behind the lack of action at the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The Baku City Circuit usually provides plenty of drama but the 2023 edition proved a damp squib, as Red Bull once again dominated up front, while those behind struggled to pull off any overtakes.

“There was no overtaking, even with a big pace difference,” Wolff said. “It made it not great entertainment.

“We have to analyse the weekend with the sprint format, whether there’s positives we can take out.”

Baku was the venue for the first of six Sprints on the 2023 F1 calendar and produced some early fireworks between Max Verstappen and George Russell, with the Dutchman taking exception to the Brit’s aggression.

However, Sunday’s GP was far more processional, with most drivers holding station to the chequered flag after the early safety car brought out by the retirement of Nyck de Vries.

“At the end it all comes down to racing,” Wolff added. “It needs the tough battles and I think the highlight you could see yesterday was George [Russell] and Max [Verstappen] being able to battle it out and today there was none of that.

“Even if you were within 0.2 seconds it was very difficult to overtake, it was nearly impossible to overtake unless the other driver makes a mistake.

“We need to really at it and how we can make it better. Not how we can make it better, we need to look at how we can avoid just a boring race.

“I’m not sure that 100m more DRS would have made a difference.”

Hamilton and Russell finished sixth and eighth respectively in Baku – Image credit: Wolfgang Wilhelm/Mercedes media

Are new regs to blame?

Criticism of the new regulations, introduced ahead of the 2022 season with the aim of improving racing, has been increasing in some quarters.

Drivers are reporting it’s already harder to follow cars in front compared to last season, with the sight of DRS trains becoming increasingly frequent.

Despite having one of the longest straights on the calendar, this was again evident in Baku, with Wolff adding that the regulations should be revisited if this trend continues.

“I think after a race weekend like this we must not talk it down overall and say we need to change completely,” Wolff said.

“It’s more about understanding why it was not entertaining and revisit it. We have two cars that are sailing off into the sunset on merit and then we have a 20-second gap.

“I wouldn’t know today between Aston Martin and Ferrari and us who is quicker because you’re stuck where you’re stuck and that’s pretty much it.

“So for us finding more data sets like in the next races to see how this is going and then we need to adjust.”

Andrew Wright
Andrew Wrighthttps://total-motorsport.com
Sports Journalist for Total-Motorsport.com
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