“We didn’t expect that.” Toto Wolff had no problem admitting that the Melbourne qualifying result went beyond Mercedes’ expectations, and when the results of the day are positive, he also allows himself some philosophical considerations.
“What we love about this sport is that after so many negative moments there are other positive moments that you may not expect – said Wolff – I can’t say that we are where we want to be, obviously, but today a second and a third place are a result. much better than we expected”.
Toto Wolff, Team Principal Mercedes-AMG con Lewis Hamilton
Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images
Mercedes emerged as a surprise in qualifying in Melbourne and, what Wolff said, was also confirmed by the drivers themselves.
“We haven’t brought any news to the track – underlined Russell – but we are getting to know the single-seater better”.
Playing in favor of the W14 was a setup that went well with the low asphalt temperatures recorded in qualifying.
“We did a great job with tire management and the two drivers were an added value – explained Wolff – if we look at the on-boards it is clear that the single-seater is still not as easy to drive as a Red Bull or an Aston Martin . We have a much smaller operating window, and both George and Lewis were able to make the most of it today.”
The shot in the arm was much appreciated by the whole team, to the point of raising a doubt: is the W14 version ‘B’ really needed, invoked by Wolff on the eve of Jeddah?
“We have to maintain a rational vision – explained the Mercedes team principal with a smile – today we saw that there is a lot of potential to ‘unlock’ in the car, but we also need to make the right decisions in the medium and long term. The goal is to have the best package possible, and whether that’s with narrow or wide bodywork is irrelevant. We need to have more downforce, this is the car’s weak point.”
George Russell with Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton after Australia qualifying
Photo by: Mark Sutton
The W14 is starting to be a familiar ‘object’ for the Mercedes engineers, and although the debut was as disappointing as it was twelve months earlier, today the situation is less chaotic than in 2022.
“Last year’s single-seater was too low off the ground while the W14 was probably born too high – explained Wolff – but today we have a greater understanding than twelve months ago, we are able to immediately find the weak points of the car. There has been a great job done in the last few weeks by the aerodynamic department in an attempt to improve performance, and in the end I hope that we can continue on this path”.
Looking to tomorrow’s race, some question marks still remain about Russell’s and Hamilton’s ambitions, the podium is within reach, but the top step remains a dream.
“We are not competing for a race win – concluded Wolff – we have to proceed step by step. It’s nice to see this boost, the mentality is what’s needed, but Red Bull is still ahead, and maybe today they didn’t express themselves to their full potential. Under normal circumstances they place two cars on the front row, and in the long runs they were definitely the fastest. But our goal is to hunt him down and do our best to put on a good show. The beauty of this sport is that you never give up.”
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