Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that the team’s current deficit can’t be blamed solely on the engine, highlighting that the team has won eight straight Formula 1 Constructors Championships since the turbo-hybrid era debuted in 2014.
The 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix proved that Mercedes are struggling. The team’s lead driver Lewis Hamilton faced the ignominy of exiting a Q1 session based on pure pace alone for the first time since 2009 and the team’s second driver George Russell finished a distant fifth behind both Red Bull and Ferrari cars.
Adding to their woes, the slowest teams on the grid all use Mercedes power units, with the team’s engines facing heavy scrutiny for the first time since they returned to the sport in the 1990s.
“You have to remember that this engine has helped us win eight championships in a row,” Wolff told Motorsport-Total.com
“I think it’s important not just to point the finger at individual areas of the car. We operate together as a team and I think that overall we have deficits that are bigger than an engine deficit.
“We are clearly behind in terms of top speed. I don’t know if you just have to deal with one thing or if it’s a lot of things. I don’t know how much drag we have compared to the others either, but it feels like a lot.”
The Mercedes team principal also stated that there was no overnight fix to the issues and that the Brackley-based team should expect a difficult weekend in Melbourne.
“I see no reason why we should take big steps,” Wolff explained.
“The gap is too big to simply be there in the next races. Melbourne will not be a picnic.”
Wolff for his part is unwilling to write off the season, given that there are still 21 races ahead.
“There are 23 races, two of which have been driven,” Wolff stated.
“So the season is still incredibly long and we must not fall into the trap of assessing how we will look in the middle of the season or at the end of the season based on our current performance.”
Red Bull and Ferrari improve
After eight years of uninterrupted dominance, Mercedes find themselves struggling to keep up with the front running pair of Red Bull and Ferrari with regard to pure pace.
It will be interesting to see if they can sort out their porpoising issues, which remains possibly the team’s biggest concern.
Mercedes certainly have the necessary pedigree to recover, though with Red Bull poaching several members of Mercedes’ engine operation to their new Red Bull Powertrains division, the German outfit could struggle to bridge the current performance gap to their rivals.