Toto Wolff, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2017

It’s painful Mercedes’ aren’t title favourites any more – Wolff

2017 Canadian Grand Prix

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Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff has conceded the team are no longer title favourites after Ferrari moved ahead of them in the constructors’ championship at the last race.

Ferrari’s one-two in the Monaco Grand Prix put them 17 points ahead of Mercedes, who came away with fourth and seventh places for Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton trails Monaco winner Sebastian Vettel by 25 points in the drivers’ championship.

“It’s painful, but we are not the favourites for this year’s championship,” Wolff admitted. “At the moment it’s Ferrari.”

They have a very strong package and we need to rise to the challenge to prove once again that we are the team to beat. There are still 14 races left and everything is completely open. We’re looking forward to Montreal and the chance to bounce back with a strong result – hopefully producing valuable answers to some tough questions in the process.”

Wolff revealed the team has responded to the difficulties it experienced in Monaco in much the same way it did to their disappointing performance in the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix.

“We’ve had bruising weekends before and it’s about showing resilience and getting up after falling,” he said.

“I remember the troubles we had in Singapore in 2015, which hurt badly. We gave ourselves a deadline to address that setback before switching our focus to the next race in Suzuka, which we won. We’ve done exactly the same thing after Monaco – addressing the problems before turning our attention to Montreal. We know that this season is a marathon, not a sprint.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 73 comments on “It’s painful Mercedes’ aren’t title favourites any more – Wolff”

    1. I wish I had patience for these, but I don’t. First it was Hamilton during the race, then Lauda and now Wolff.
      Just get on with it.

      Now Ferrari will be asked about this as well, but I can give you guys a window into the future.
      Seb: “BAH! For sure, we have our feet on the ground, it is just the beginning of the season, a lot of race, Mercedes are strong”
      Maurizio: “Bbbbhh uuhh the tEAm ize working hÁrd, everybody at the factory, to be competiteve, for sure no?!”
      Kimi: “Bhoaw! It’s the same for everybody so…”

      Just insult each other, some bitterness, some arrogance, come on people

      1. Hamilton just “insulted” Indy and look where that got him.

        1. @rethl Well Hamilton has a point and Schumacher said the same in 2001, so what’s the big deal ?.

          1. You tell me

          2. Hamilton has a point? You dont know indycar at all.

          3. I was wondering how Schumacher’s quote rather than maybe Senna, Hamilton’s hero, came into play.

            Then I remembered Senna testing back in 1992 at Firebird with Team Penske. Senna didn’t have a bad opinion of CART Indycar. He actually got behind the wheel of one to form his opinion.

            Senna :
            “Everything was very new to me. I had to get used to driving with a gear lever again, to a clutch pedal, to the turbo engine, and to the brakes, which are completely different from those in F1, not being carbon brakes.
            The Penske reminded me of the old days in Formula 1 where the human side was the most important thing. Today Formula 1 is so sophisticated that the computers do most of the driving for you. If you have a clever computer, you are in good shape; if you have a monkey one, your in trouble, you know? What I experienced with the Indy car was the human input has a tremendous value – and I really got excited about it.”

          4. SevenFiftySeven
            7th June 2017, 12:56

            Schumacher said Indy is a step down from F1 and that it’s too dangerous. He also said that usually people coming to F1 from Indy don’t survive in F1, and those in F1 who find it hard to survive in the sport usually go to Indy. Important points to note about his comment are: a) it wasn’t targeted to any particular driver, or said in the context of someone about to drive in Indy, and b) the words ‘usually’, ‘survive’ and ‘step down’ don’t mean ‘always’, ‘struggle’ and ‘inferior’. Furthermore, his comments were responses to questions asked to him about whether he would like to try the Indy500. To which he said, no, and when asked further, he said it’s a step down from F1 and too dangerous. When asked if he didn’t find Indy luring to him, he said the speeds that people do there is fast enough to get a drivers’ legs completely damaged if they hit the wall with the cars’ chassis not holding up after impact. When asked he if doesn’t find Indy a challenge, he replied that usually drivers coming in from Indy don’t survive well in F1 and drivers who don’t survive in F1 usually go to Indy. It may sound bad, but he chose his words well.

            I have personally no issues with what Hamilton said about the Indy500 in the context of Alonso’s qualifying results. If he is getting people at Indy unhappy over what he said, it is probably because Lewis has a habit of saying stuff that usually doesn’t go down with others. I recall a certain comment he made recently about his peers during the Baku Grand Prix of 2016 that also didn’t go down well with some.

            Finally, I’d like to call upon some Hamilton fans to eschew bringing Schumacher into the mix whenever they have a controversy on their hands. Schumacher’s had an illustrious career and is retired. His story is written. Lewis is still racing. His legacy is still to be written. Schumacher made some mistakes in the past, which Schumacher fans can acknowledge. You won’t find Schumacher fans coming over to justify everything Schumacher supposedly did or stood for, or come flooding social media sites every time the Schumacher name is used. Even if Schumacher said something wrong (which Lewis also supposedly said), it doesn’t mean Lewis is right, nor should the word Schumacher be used to justify something that is supposedly wrong. Schumacher, himself, didn’t have to deal with a lot of media stories out of the car, because he was/is a very private person. The more you you are in the limelight out of your own volition out of the car, the more you are likely to be talked about. Celebrities know this only too well, and are used to being adulated one minute and then criticized the next. The idea is to stop talking, or get used to the odd negative press that comes from speaking your mind. There’s no other way to win this battle. You either stay mute, be diplomatic, or you be yourself and move on. The only great PR agents were Hitler and Stalin. Otherwise, you can’t stop people from talking about you.

        2. @Gabriel

          What does Toto’ comments has to do with the alleged comments of Hamilton? That’s old news, move on.

          1. Lol, ‘alleged’…good one. But ya you’re right. What has TW’s alleged comments have to do with LH’s fake comments, invented on this site by Keith just to irritate @kgn11

        3. Actually, Hamilton appears to have been misquoted or mistranslated. You’d think by now he’d know better than to say anything that might be misinterpreted, but apparently not. :)

      2. oh boy, this is going to turn out as a Hamilton vs Indy discussion again.

        1. Thats because Jesus did not rest on the 7th day, he created Lewis Hamilton.

          Welcome to f1fanatic.co.uk….

          1. Look, if you’re going to spout blasphemy, at least get it right– Jesus preached on the 7th day, God was the one who was supposedly resting.

            :)

            1. Blasphemy: Making light of somebody’s imaginary sky fairy(s). Is that still a thing?

      3. The Kimi’s reply is on point :D

      4. How different if only Wolf had said:
        “It’s exciting, we are not the favourites for this year’s championship,” Wolff admitted. “At the moment it’s Ferrari.”
        “We’ve had bruising weekends before and it’s about showing resilience and getting up after falling, we’ll triple our efforts, give 110% week after week and squeeze the last drop of performance out of our car

        1. Another comment that doesnt mean anything, i dont really see the difference.

          1. I understand; it’s probably too subtle for some.
            (and maybe this response as well ;] )

      5. Kimi: “Bhoaw! It’s the same for everybody so…”

        PRICELESS !! :)

    2. Sure Toto. And Alonso will stick it on pole in Baku.
      Incoming 1-2 from Mercedes at Canada.

      1. Not sure why you would think that given Ferrari’s form.

        1. Monaco was like Singapore 2015 but less worse.
          Mercedes still has advantage on straight line speed. Guess what three tracks are coming up.
          Hamilton and Bottas both have great history at Canada.
          Hamilton has 5 Canadian wins and Bottas qualified 3th on his first go on the track in a mediocre Williams and since 2015 always on the podium.

          1. MG421982 (@)
            6th June 2017, 18:58

            Agree, but things should be kinda different this year… on theory at least, of course. Last year Ferrari was behind Mercedes and RBR, but VET qualified 3rd, “only” 0.3sec off pole position. He finished 2nd, 5sec behind HAM and 40sec ahead of 3rd place – VER. It’s quite obvious they built a better car this year (their best car since 2008), so I wouldn’t bet too much on Mercedes yet.

    3. Michael Brown (@)
      6th June 2017, 10:32

      feelsbadman.jpg

    4. Well, how long before we start to complain about Ferrari dominance?

      F1 is the same, year after year, one team is better than others, and fall from racing grace is always tough.

      I wonder at what point will Hamilton jump ship? If next 3 years Ferrari dominates he is in the wrong car and Sebastiancher will move closer to MSC records?.

      2017 changed things, but more they change more they stay the same.

      1. @jureo When Ferrari starts to dominate we will complain. So far Mercedes is in the game and Red Bull is not far behind.

      2. it’s 3-3 on race wins, a bit too soon to speak about dominance, a bit too soon for these comments from Mercedes too. Where is the development race that they were talking about a couple of weeks back? Have they decided to lose it already?

        1. @johnmilk We won’t know for sure until after the summer break. Can’t read anything into the first half of the season. Kimi has been sandbagging. We don’t know what kind of programm mercedes are running/fuel levels/engine modes.
          Actually we won’t really know who stands where until the 2018 pre season test. which, of course, doesn’t mean anything. Because you can’t really read anything into those times. Pretty sure Mclaren has actually been dominating ever since ’14. But they’ll never tell us that.

          1. They were always downplaying their dominance. They are now doing it again, only that it is really gonne.

          2. @mrboerns it annoys me that they come with this sort of speech it is still 3:3 on sundays and 4:2 on Saturdays in favour of mercedes. It looks pretty good to me for the championship, can anyone take a favourite from those results? Especially after a circuit like Monaco

            Wait, is that your sarcastic tone to tell me Kimi is not sandbagging? That can’t be right. McLaren on the other hand

        2. Anyone can see the Ferrari is the better car. Which to me puts them favourite, regardless of the 3:3 and the 4:2.

          1. @johns23

            Anyone can see the Ferrari is the better car

            At Monaco perhaps, but over the other five races the two cars were evenly matched and all of them could have gone either way.

            1. Yep, but Ferrari just faster.

      3. @jureo I think the weighting of number of WDC’s in regards to greatness has got progressively worse since 2010, at least for those that have followed the sport for a long period.

        1. … so Schumacher, racking up 7 wins in the best car with number-one driver status, that proves he’s great.

          Vettel winning 4 years in a row in the best car, not so great.

          Hamilton winning 2 years in a row in the best car– not at all great, because he got beat his 3rd year by Rosberg.

          Does that about sum it up?

          1. Arad (@just-an-fan)
            6th June 2017, 17:54

            No! Because to the 15 YO, Ham is the racing god!

          2. Way way waaaaaay over your head sorry Grat.

            Perhaps bring into consideration that other 50 years of the sport. Not just one snapshot for convenience.

      4. look how much Bottas missed from the pole and it is disaster, Merc are now underdogs. This is called dominance.

      5. how long before we start to complain about Ferrari dominance?

        I don’t know. We’d have to actually see some of this “Ferrari dominance” first. Once it happens, if it happens, I’d give it a season before starting to complain.

      6. Dominance? Ha, Ferrari haven’t even been able to string a back-to-back race wins since 2010 Monza-Singapore!

    5. It was so exciting the past couple of years; this tense championship between two cars.
      Even Tony Kanaan couldn’t predict who would win ;)

    6. Mercedes saying everything they can to take the pressure off themselves… I mean they’ve been saying Ferrari caught up with them since 2015.

      1. Every race weekend for the last few seasons…. even when they where seconds ahead of everyone else… Nauseating…

    7. Adam (@rocketpanda)
      6th June 2017, 12:09

      This is a ridiculous comment. Given their performance over the last three years and their performance this year alone suggests they are very much a title favourite – it’s just an honour they have to share for the first time in three years.

      Also as others have pointed out, Ferrari are likely to have a DNF or component penalty in the future and all it takes is one rough weekend and the balance of power will shift back to Mercedes. So sure Vettel and Ferrari are in the driving seat now but as both Vettel and Ferrari have said – it’s a long season and way too early to call.

      All I see here is sour grapes that the Constructor’s and Driver’s championships aren’t a forgone conclusion anymore like they have been for the last three years. By this point in 2014, 15 and 16 we pretty much knew Mercedes were overwhelmingly the favourites for the Constructor’s and were pretty much certain it’d be one of their two drivers for the Driver’s crown. This time we simply can’t say that – Ferrari certainly look very good, but Mercedes aren’t exactly far away.

      Wolff has constantly made these silly remarks that imply Mercedes are an underdog fighting above their weight when they’re anything but, so I kinda think people should ignore this as much as ‘the pack have caught us up’ – when we knew they hadn’t – over the last three years. They are still the favourites. They’ve underperformed and Ferrari have overperformed and it’s too early to call.

      1. I disagree only from the standpoint that TW says himself “At the moment it’s Ferrari.” He then goes on to give an example of how they dealt with a setback in 2015 after Singapore, and how they intend to do the same now.

        You say it’s a long season and way too early to call…so does TW call it a marathon not a sprint. So I really don’t read anything here to make me think ‘sour grapes.’

      2. You hit the nail on the head, Adam – Wolff’s reverse propaganda has become utterly tedious and predictable, nauseating even.

      3. Agree with you completely. Wolff is a bit of a drama queen. Even if Ferrari are slightly stronger at the moment, Mercedes is really close behind. Toto makes it sound like they’ve almost admitted to themselves that they will be 2nd best this season.

        If anything, Toto needs to pull up his drivers. Both Lewis and Bottas haven’t been helping themselves with the occasional poor performance. If I was Toto, I’d be keeping my one eye on Fernando for next season.

        1. I’d be surprised if TW doesn’t have both eyes on FA and vice versa. When he can offer FA a top 3 ride for the remainder of his F1 career why would he let FA go and be the competition, and with whom anyway?

          1. Naah. They really don’t want Alonso, they’ve made that pretty clear. If Ferrari was in poor form, they would need to be worried about Vettel, but I don’t see why he would leave now.

            1. I think they dismissed Alonso if he was going to be partnering Lewis at Mercedes. If Ferrari don’t get back to poor form, there is no way they can poach Vettel and if the Red Bull drivers are still unavailable, then Alonso would seem like their top choice for 2018. Say what you want about Alonso, but you’re guaranteed he’ll take the 2nd best car on the grid to the last race of the season with a chance of winning the WDC.

        2. Arad (@just-an-fan)
          6th June 2017, 17:56

          Yeah! You are right about Bottas becuse he has been helping Ham since he joined Mercedes. Blocking Vettel, letting Ham through, getting defective engine, taking out Ferrari driver…etc…etc…

    8. Bit of a strange comment by toto. To me monaco was under performing drivers at team mercedes and not the car, hamilton got setup completely wrong while bottas drove at A- insteadv of A. Ferrari havent been faster on any track by enough lap time to label them as favourites. Now a power circuit and stop start corners at canada will suit mercedes. It is an easy drivers track, hamilton always goes good at easy tracks like montreal (not as well at driver tracks like monaco, suzuka) so i expect merc winning canada.

    9. Not sure what else TW can say. They aren’t leading either the WDC or the WCC, so at the moment they aren’t the favourites for a change. Sheesh you’d think people would welcome the fact that it isn’t Merc as usual running away with it. Somehow it’s still not good enough that Merc has a challenger now. And would it have been better if TW had said we are dominant right now and will remain so? Would that have people sitting on their hands or would they be texting up a storm?

      1. You’re getting close to the point– No matter what Toto, Niki or Lewis say– THEY’RE WRONG!!!!!!!

        Otherwise, where would the story be? What would fans gripe and complain about? Can’t complain about Ferrari winning (yet), because according to the Tifosi, Ferrari *is* F1, and if Ferrari isn’t winning, then the sport is dying.

        This is a @%#$storm in a teaspoon, and no self-professed fan with more than three functioning brain cells should care.

        1. Arad (@just-an-fan)
          6th June 2017, 18:00

          Hahaha, I never heard a ferrari fan, or Ferrari management complaining like RedBull, or like Mercedes threatening to quit if the hybrid, token, limited parts….etc are not imposed. Funny, Ferrari bashing has become a trend ever since Schumacher-Ferrari era. and by bashing Ferrari, certain hamilton fans thin that they are actually very intelligent!

      2. mark jackson
        6th June 2017, 20:29

        There is passing up front. Didn’t you see Lewis overtake Bottas TWICE in Barcelona?

    10. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      6th June 2017, 13:27

      The worst part is that there may be absolutely no passing at the front probably for the whole season. Raikonnen won’t take the fight to Vettel so we can sit back and wait for next season. Verstappen is also having trouble – so the 2 main passers in F1, Lewis and Max, are unable to pass so what’s the point of the race other than to take the cars for a spin every other week…

      There is no tension at the paddock. The drivers don’t sit at the tables anymore next to each other after qualifying – that was the best part of qualifying:-) Do you remember Nico next to Lewis? Now they talk on the grid and they are so laid back. It’s not a party, it’s a sport.

      I think Liberty Media is failing to understand that the vast majority of people who follow the sport, do so on TV and we are now used to shows like House of Cards and Homeland.

      1. Sigh. You should learn that you are not talking for F1 fans. You are only talking for yourself.

      2. Arad (@just-an-fan)
        6th June 2017, 23:30

        F1 passers? Ham? ok ok

    11. Sky Sports have put out an interesting article from Mark Hughes; ‘Understanding the Mercedes Diva‘, which focuses on the W08’s struggles this year.

      Mark echoes Toto Wolff’s statement that Mercedes are going to struggle to win either the WDC or the WCC unless they get on top of their weaknesses quickly. It goes into some detail about the troubles caused by the longer wheelbase, which is being compounded by the car’s weight and narrow set-up window.

      I expect Mercedes will struggle again relative to Ferrari in Canada because of the slow corners and US tyres, and I’d go as far as saying that Mercedes only look like favourites for Silverstone out of the races left before the summer break.

      By that point Vettel and Ferrari are going to have quite healthy leads in the respective Championships, so will Mercedes be able to produce something of a 2013 Red Bull-esque return to form and fight it out until the end, or will they write off this year in a bid to strengthen next year?

      1. I’ve come to realize that Mark Hughes is not the most impartial person. And a lot of what he says is groundless.

        1. I’ve come to realize that Mark Hughes is not the most impartial person. And a lot of what he says is groundless.

          Like most F1 ‘experts’, however it doesn’t take an expert to see that the ‘peaky’ performance of the W08 is proving difficult to master, compared to the more composed and consistent SF70H.

          1. I think there’s insufficient data to draw the conclusion that the Mercedes is really all that “peaky”. If it were really down to the car being peaky, why is it generally only peaky in the hands of one of its drivers?

            Wolff mentions Singapore 2015, but they have not had a Singapore-2015-style race yet this season. In that race both LH and NR qualified 1.5 seconds off the pace. Hardly comparable to Monaco 2017 where Bottas was less than a 20th of a second from pole.

            1. Nonetheless TW is not talking specifically about what happened at Singapore 2015, just how the team reacted to it afterwards. And the point is not how close VB qualified…it is that it was a Ferrari 1-2 with no threat from a Mercedes on Sunday and now SV is leading by 25 points.

    12. I like this. A top team, essentially saying someone did a better job than them, and admitting that they need to step up.

      It makes a difference to having teams endlessly complain about each-other’s car, in the hope something would change and reduce the advantage.
      (Sure sometimes it was reasonable, other times it felt childish).

      1. Admitting others have done a better job is not a new thing at all. That’s what Ferrari have been saying over the last couple of years for example. What Mercedes are doing, have been doing for the last couple of years, is actually quite something else, because they are acting like they are worse than they are.

    13. mark jackson
      6th June 2017, 20:27

      Mercedes has won 3, Ferrari has won 3, so there can’t be that much difference between the cars. I think Mercedes are up in qualifying too.

      The real difference is both Mercedes drivers are under performing (Bottas getting accustomed to a new team and Lewis being grumpy old Lewis) and Seb has been flawless all season. And Seb’s points lead is not down to team order either because Lewis has also benefited from team orders. Seb is just driving better than everyone else this season IMO.

      1. Vettel has the car to be driving better than everyone else. That Ferrari is on rails no matter what track they’re at. Its making both Ferrari drivers look un beatable at the moment

    14. It was going to happen sometime. Ferrari will always find a way, they always have. Now its about if Mercedes can hang on

      1. They found a way after 10 years and billions of dollars poured in to their championship chances, but you’re right, they eventually found their way.

        I’d honestly love to see Ferrari get out developed during the season and lose the wdc title by a whisker. The look on marchinonne, arrivabene and vettels face would be priceless.

    15. Ferrari’s eventual engine penalties will surely keep them from winning either title.

      Toto doesn’t have anything to worry about.

    16. Most good things eventually come to end Mr Wolff. That is the reality in F1. If there is no grid penalty for Ferrari later in the season, we will get a proper championship battle.

    17. I read a comment that puzzles me . It was that Ferrari spent billions in development costs but, the comment had a negative overtone . What was bad about that ?
      Isn’t that what it took to catch up to Mercedes who spent even more. They have 1,500 people at Brackley , 1,500 people who do nothing but work to make 2 cars fast and easy to drive . I have read estimates that assert Mercedes spends up to 2 billion per year on its F1 team .
      What the Mercedes budget bought was abject boredom . Can anyone recall a 3 year period in any racing that was more predictable than 2014-16 in F1 . We all knew that absent an unusual incident Mercedes would finish 1-2 . We KNEW this so what was the point of the race other than to see which of the two typical races would paly out .
      One , Hamilton would push Rosberg off the track and pull out to a lead that Rosberg , who was driving essentially the same car, had no chance at closing .
      Two, Hamilton would have a problem ,like messing up his steering wheel settings and not knowing enough about the car’s systems to reset them or blowing up his engine by running at too high an output and Rosberg would win .
      With that reminder of F1 history I say to Ferrari ,”Thanks “.
      I for one am glad that they spent the money ( close to what Mercedes spends) and gave their drivers what they needed to make a race of each event ( at least a 4 car race which as twice as good as the 2 car races of the prior hybrid era ) .
      Again ,to Ferrari I say , “Thanks “.

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