Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2018

Mercedes have made a “big step”, admits Wolff

2018 Japanese Grand Prix

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The last four races show Mercedes have made a “big step” with their car, team principal Toto Wolff admits.

The team scored back-to-back one-two finishes in Russia and Japan. Lewis Hamilton has now won the last four races running including his victories in Italy and Singapore.

Wolff said the team has now demonstrated its W09 is competitive on a range of different circuits.

“We’ve made a big step forwards since Spa,” said Wolff. “Monza, Singapore and now here three very different tracks.

“We took it as an initiative to perform on all three to prove to ourselves we could deliver a car on every sort of track: high-speed Monza race track, twisty Singapore and then Suzuka which has a little bit of everything. And I think now we are in a very good position.

“We understand how the aero works with the tyres, the drivers feel well and have a lot of confidence in the car and all that together I think made us out-perform our competitors.”

The team’s inability to keep Sebastian Vettel behind during the Belgian Grand Prix led it to make a breakthrough with its slow-corner performance. However Wolff said the progress made has also come from the developments brought to its W09.

“It’s always a combination of developments that are in the pipeline but equally finding clues,” he said.

“I was just discussing with out engineers literally 10 minutes ago about an email I sent after Spa where we said we are just not giving up, this is not a championship we are going to lose. We need to understand why we have been out-performed so it is development, research, analysis, mindset, work ethic, fun.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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  • 11 comments on “Mercedes have made a “big step”, admits Wolff”

    1. It certainly seems like Mercs have managed to get on top of tyre issues.

    2. The headline could have been “The sky is blue, admits Wolff”.

      I’m not sure why Wolff has been so reluctant to admit that his team have made serious progress in the second half of the season. The achievements his team has made are to be applauded, not denied until the championships are all but won. Sustained dominance may be a turn off for some, but it’s not Mercedes fault that the other 9 teams can’t touch them. They just need to raise their game.

      1. @geemac Add to that the number of points Vettel has thrown away by taking unnecessary risks. Just imagine how much tighter it’d now be on the top of the drivers’ standings had Vettel not thrown away as many points as he has by taking unnecessary risks in Baku, Paul Ricard, Hockenheim, and Monza, as well as, the last race in Suzuka to a certain extent by throwing away two rather certain wins (maybe even a potential third), as well as, three podium finishes.

      2. @geemac I don’t see it as denial. Their motto has been anti-complacency, working as a team to improve all aspects, being honest about flaws and errors. It’s a powerful dynamic that’s simply worked, in stark contrast to the disarray of their main competitor. The article also explains their logic: they wanted to test the car at three very different tracks – Monza, Singapore and Suzuka – before being satisfied that they had made the progress they wanted. Having done so, they’ve declared that fact. It’s the kind of passionate, collaborative efficiency that deserves to be applauded, as you say.

        1. Also we have seen times occasionally throughout F1 history when teams started the season a bit cocky, predicting their own great, and winning season, even ahead of race one being run, and even when they have actually had the chops to back that up, it does put a bit of a bad taste in some people’s mouths. Does anybody like a braggart?

          I have never minded TW’s declarations of other teams being strong and being their competition, because I see it as being diplomatic and not appearing too big for their britches. Not appearing at least outwardly to be overconfident. Not wanting to ‘poke the bear’ as it were. Not wanting to rub it in people’s faces.

          Mercedes is and continues to be an incredible team that always seems to find the answers and usually finishes their seasons stronger than they started. LH seems as at one with his car now as ever, in spite of that not always being the case this year or last. Together they continue to be the benchmark, and it is impressive. But ironically we don’t really want TW telling us how impressive they are, do we? He’ll tell us how impressed he is with the team etc etc, but he doesn’t need to toot their horn in the way a braggart would, when their accomplishments are there for us all to see. That speaks for itself.

          1. I agree @robbie, generally much sounder to let the results do the talking.

    3. As a Mercedes fan I’m relieved to see the performance that the team have managed to unlock from the car. After Australia I made a comment about how dominant the W09 looked and then felt rather foolish when Ferrari switched it on and took charge of the championship.

      Looking back over the season to date, and particularly after the past three races I suspect now that it’s been more a case of Mercedes unintentionally switching it on and off. It looks like the W09 may have had the potential to deliver such performance all along but the engineers just didn’t fully understand the car and have spent roughly 8 months revising their simulation models until they cracked it. They’ve obviously introduced some revised components and tweaked setup configurations to benefit this new understanding but they’ve not added anything that’s been a big visual departure from earlier in the season.

      Either way, the team as a whole certainly look very confident now and it’s hard to see anything other than Mercedes dominance at the remaining races.

      1. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
        9th October 2018, 10:37

        I thought the opposite from the moment the cars were unveiled, the Ferrari looked like a reasonably dramatic evolution of last year’s car which arguably had the best race pace of the entire grid. This year they also brought the qualifying punch and by all reasonable measures, should be leading this championship.

        Then Vettel happened.

    4. Technologically speaking, I’m always impressed by what Mercedes have accomplished. Between 2014-2016, they won 51 out of 59 races – losing just eight races in 3 years. Between Hamilton/Rosberg, they also set 56 pole positions out of a possible 59 – losing just 3 in 3 years, or one a year from Massa, Vettel & Ricciardo. That’s an insane level of domination?! Technically speaking, that’s incredible.

      In 2017 out of 20 races, Mercedes claimed 12 race wins between Hamilton/Bottas, compared to 5 wins for Ferrari and 3 wins for Red Bull. They then took 15 pole positions, with the remaining 5 coming from Ferrari.

      This year, out of the 17 races competed so far, Mercedes have won 9 times, compared to 5 wins for Ferrari and 3 wins for Red Bull. They have taken 10 pole positions, with Ferrari claiming 5 and Red Bull claiming 1. There are four races remaining and looking at the performance advantage Mercedes currently have it looks like they will be Mercedes pole/victories too.

      Stats obviously don’t show the full picture, and yes Wikipedia is my friend, but it’s pretty clear Mercedes have quite literally dominanted Formula One in every sense of that word for the last 5 years. Sure Red Bull and Ferrari have dominated in the past, but not to the extreme that Mercedes have. So while technologically speaking I’m impressed by Mercedes and can respect their accomplishments… as a fan that doesn’t support them, significantly less so. Most dominations break eventually and a new challenger takes over and I am rather hoping that happens sooner than later.

    5. To think that only a few weeks ago Hamilton was so despondent at the championship slipping away from his grasp. Ferrari seemed invincible. Amazing how they turned things around.

    6. Mercedes team have done an outstanding job of getting the car into it’s current shape.
      The intense effort has paid of handsomely.

      I’m no expert but just to see the in car shots of the Mercs compared to the Ferrs, points to the Merc being way more stable on the track under all conditions. Merc have certainly overcome, in a big way, their instability in dirty air.
      LH & VB’s hands hardly moving on the steering wheel. Frantic sawing for both Ferrs.

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