George Russell, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2022

Bringing updates for Mercedes “doesn’t make any sense” at the moment – Wolff

2022 Australian Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says it is not worth bringing updates for their W13 while they are still trying to understand the problems they have with it.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell qualified fifth and sixth for tomorrow’s race but were almost a second slower than pole-winner Charles Leclerc.

Wolff said he was pleased with the result but pointed out they would be even further down the grid had Carlos Sainz Jnr and Fernando Alonso not encountered problems during the session.

“I’m satisfied with the result today,” he said. “Obviously correct the Sainz and Alonso [results], it’s nice, good, but still solidly in the top 10, and that was not a given with the closeness of the front end of the midfield.”

The team decided against bringing updates for its car in order to focus on the problems it has, particularly with it ‘porpoising’ at high speeds, Wolff explained. “We’re just learning the car, we’re learning the tyres. Nothing we did this weekend has unlocked the aerodynamic potential or has reduced the bouncing, we’re still in the same place.

“That’s why it doesn’t make any sense to bring updates because you’re confusing yourself even more. Maybe it’s even the fact that the more downforce you bring, the worse the bouncing gets. So we are still learning.”

Ferrari took pole position despite their drivers suffering from ‘porpoising’ which appeared similar to Mercedes’ problems. But Wolff pointed out their rivals aren’t carrying it into corners. “Our bouncing is worse in the sense that we are carrying it into the corners, into the high-speed,” he said.

“So you can we see where we lose performance. When you look at the [data] overlay, in sector one we are very competitive, in sector two we are competitive, in sector three through nine and 10 and through 12, we are losing. We are losing all our margin. It’s almost like a second through a couple of corners.

“So [will] curing the bouncing be the miraculous unlocking of a second within the car? No, for sure not. But there is many other little improvements that we can make on weight and a few others where we can optimise. And you know how it is in Formula 1, you just need to chip away the small gains whilst understanding the car.”

Wolff remains unsure how long it will take the team to get on top of their problems. “I’m optimistic that eventually we’re going to get there, whether that is in two races or five or by the end of the season, I don’t know.

“But you need to stay humble. My time horizon is not a race weekend or a year. It’s more like 10 years. I want to look back and have a competitive team, and there will be years where it’s more difficult. And this is one.”

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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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29 comments on “Bringing updates for Mercedes “doesn’t make any sense” at the moment – Wolff”

  1. It’s good to see Mercedes struggling. It will bring out the best in the team and has also reshuffled the pack.

    1. I sort of agree, even as a HAM supporter. It’s just a bit dissapointing to now have George in Mercedes and not be able to compare drivers adequately. Sure they drive the same cars but with the amount of experimentation I don’t think it’s a fair comparison.

      1. George is also used to driving a dog of a car fast in quali.

        LeClerc style.

    2. They are not struggling. The usual talk, they are not where they want to be but they won’t tell us why. Reports say the merc is very overweight which explains why the increase in minimal weight passed. Some reports say they are at least 10kg over their rivals, that is .4 also everyone has realised the merc PU for some reason is underpowered, today we saw them clipping really early on the straights. Their car is not that bad at all it looks really good in some remarks.

      1. If they’ve got the engine turned down because the porpoising makes the car too unstable, then it stands to reason they can’t harvest the full amount of energy either.

        Based on the McLaren’s performance, the Mercedes PU is not necessarily underpowered, but none of the Mercedes teams are maximizing their performance.

  2. Still sort of worrying, for them, that they are still understanding the problem. I hope Alison’s words don’t come back to bite them.

    1. The one about “one big team making serious error in their design”?? Yeah I was wondering about that as well. :D

    2. which words?

      1. Mercedes released YouTube videos of how they tackled the new regs and Allison made mention to getting it “right” on interpretation of rules and someone getting it horribly “wrong” …

        Think it was this one:

  3. Mercedes struggling atleast for some time is great for the sport and arguablly for their marketing.

    Easy domination makes them look like cheaters, overcoming adversitiy will make them look like heroes.

    Hamilton gettinf a win this year will maybe do more for his GOAT case than easy championship against Bottas..

    Unless offcorse George is faster over a season..

    1. most of the time, I’ve very very happy for the influx of new fans via channels like DtS then other times you read comments like this so blatantly revisionist you start to entertain other veteran’s comments that there should be some kind of litmus test for everyone.

      It’s not even the comment that necessarily bothers me, it’s the bravado and audacity behind it. Lewis has won a race in every single season he’s completed in so far and it wasn’t easy. The 2013 Mercedes and 2008 McLaren were let’s just say midfield at best. Lewis is still the only driver this stat belongs to. The man is quite possibly the most adaptable driver on the grid, having driven 4 different eras of F1 cars and still being competitive in every season with some cars being a handful and off the pace. He’s still the only rookie that was a stone’s throw away from winning a WDC in his maiden season. These are just straight facts, there’s nothing to disagree about here.

      Mercedes didn’t hit the ground running, I don’t know who told that, in fact they pulled a Haas! And to discount their battle with Ferrari is just downright disrespectful.

      1. The 2013 Mercedes and 2008 McLaren were let’s just say midfield at best.

        You might want to look at the actual results of the 2013 season. The W04 took a total of 3 wins in 19 races and Mercedes finished 2nd in the WCC.

      2. 2008 McLaren wasn’t that bad– in fact, it was arguably the first or second fastest car over the season.

        The 2009 MP4-24, however, was a chrome-plated turd that only won at two of the least power-limited tracks on the schedule, and even then, only with KERS and a lunatic driving it. :)

        The 2011 McLaren was very promising, until they realized they’d actually assembled it wrong in testing.

        2013 Mercedes was very, very hard on it’s tires, but was overall pretty quick. It was never in any danger of winning the championship, however.

        1. The 2011 McLaren was very promising, until they realized they’d actually assembled it wrong in testing.

          No, that was 2013. The 2011 McLaren was pretty ok on its day.

  4. ‘the Sainz’

    1. the Sainz and Alonso [results]

      Referring to the problems that gifted merc 5th and 6th in a far from optimal car.

      1. @biker56 – this illustrates my problem with the whole “best car” narrative (well slightly)

        When given the opportunity these chances must be taken, if other teams/drivers don’t capitalise… it helps people to understand how strong Mercedes needed to be in several areas to maintain the high standards they did for so long

        1. @icarby To quote a cliche : “to finish first, first you must finish”.
          They were there to take advantage of the other’s misfortune.
          This is why the best drivers end up in the best cars. The best drivers can get a result in a lesser car, so they get a better car, keep improving the car, and the team. So success breeds success, and this starts away from the spotlight, during karting, F3, F2 etc.
          This is why the likes of Fangio, Jim Clark, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, get to be so highly rated (but not by blog commenters). They consistently get a better result than the team expected. Another cliche: “The harder I work, the luckier I get”.

  5. Coughs nervously from the wings of the “new” F1 Drama stage.
    Ahem? Merc & sandbagging ring any bells?
    Obviously the odd purple in 2 of the stages was just LH forgetting to ease up on the throttle.
    George leading Lewis? Gasp. Horrors. Lewis is finished, washed up.
    Just yet another old, failing once F1 great.
    Mercedes coming out this season of new everything. Wiping the floor as per usual.
    Can you even begin to imagine or know the extent of the angst caused?
    The screaming, wailing, gnashing of teeth, moaning, whining, boring boring brigade
    would be ungodly & pitiful.
    Still believe Merc truly do have a rubbish car for this season of the new era?
    Great! Please form an orderly queue along side the queues for the Tooth Fairie & the Father Christmas ones!

    1. How’s the weather in that delusional universe you’re inhabiting?

    2. Calling planet @wildbiker – your message is garbled – please try again.

      1. @biker56 Lol had exactly the same thought. The best I can decipher is that Mercedes is sandbagging and it is not to be believed that they truly do have a rubbish car.

        Personally I don’t see how they have the luxury of sandbagging themselves into being a second a lap too slow ahead of coming out with some jewel that will see them take over the Championships. I think they will need the season to do a rethink, or at least enough of it that it will be too late for them to claw anything back in the way of a title fight, let alone even for a race win.

        In short…”Still believe Merc truly do have a rubbish car for this season of the new era?” Yes I do.

        1. Hi @robbie: I think Merc have a shockingly badly performing car – for them – at the moment. But I’m also certain that they will improve. Can they improve more than the others, quickly enough – we will see, but my money is on them in the long term.
          I’m really enjoying this season so far. Good surprises.
          As for “Sandbagging” – IMHO it’s nonsense.
          Before the season, when you might be trying to hide a “secret weapon”, it’s possible.
          But in the season, every point is worth $$$ and no team would forego that for what? Some vaguely defined psychological (dis)advantage? Please explain that coherently.

          1. @biker56 Exactly. I didn’t even buy into teams sandbagging in testing given the newness of everything with these cars this year. I didn’t think they had the luxury then, and I certainly don’t now, perhaps other than a bit of it going on fleetingly between Ferrari and RBR now that they can sit comfortably knowing they are the two outstanding teams. e.g. Johnny Herbert suggesting Ferrari dials their engine down when they are on softs so they don’t show their true pace in practice.

            As to Mercedes, I too will never underestimate them…that is what they have earned with their dynastic run of Championships…so I’m sure they will improve too, but I just think that improvement is going to take a ton more work than some seem to imply, as in, I think this car as it is doesn’t have it in it, and they will need to head toward a different thinking, or to me they would have already found some combinations that would have given them some hints of improvement by now, imho.

            I mean, I hear what TW is saying about not wanting to change much while they are still learning about the car, but it just seems to me they are only learning that everything they try is not making a difference, so from my armchair what do they have to lose at this point, so the sooner they put a stiffer and redesigned floor on the car for e.g. the more they will learn.

  6. Looks like Mercedes have built a ‘prima donna’ car again, like they did a few years ago. For a while there, they were not winning. “Sandbagging!” cried the critics. But once they got to know her, they started winning and dominated.
    The story in this new era starts the same way. Will it play out as before?
    But the formula, the rules (hopefully this year!), the track, the challenge is the same for all.
    If team X attract the best people (including drivers), then build the best car, and implement the best strategy, then have reasonable luck with random events, they have the best chance of winning. “The harder I work, the luckier I get”
    So if MB get back on top, they will deserve it. Exactly the same logic applies to teams Y, Z etc.
    Wolff, intelligently, takes a long term view of this, there’s no panic in the team, the car is already fast in some places, once they unlock the full performance I’m sure they will be a force to be reckoned with.

    1. @biker56 I’m not convinced there is ‘full perfomance’ in this car to unlock. As a result I think they are going to need a B version of this car as a best case scenario. I mean, surely by now if it was within this car as it is, they would have tried enough things that they would have found themselves onto something. Rather I think it is not only going to take new parts over time, but a rethink of the philosophy they took with this car.

      Anyway, you do mention Wolff’s long term view, and I agree that they need to now look at this in the long term, and with every race that it seems to be between Max and Charles, with so far Perez and Carlos not robbing points from their teammates, that puts Max and Charles that much further away from LH and GR.

      1. @robbie Longer term than that:

        My time horizon is not a race weekend or a year. It’s more like 10 years. I want to look back and have a competitive team, and there will be years where it’s more difficult. And this is one.

        We differ on our perception of the performance locked up in the current Mercedes car – but the great thing is we will find out during the season. As many have said “The stopwatch does not lie”.
        I’m not a ‘fan’ of anyone – I just like to see fair competition. And the thing about F1 is that it can’t be corrupted by money, as it has always been about the money :).

        1. @biker56 Yeah for sure. I took that from TW to mean they have already gotten 8 WCCs in a row and if it doesn’t happen this season they will certainly be going for it for next season to try to make it 9 out of 10 seasons of this hybrid pu chapter.

  7. What Mercedes have is a discrepancy between the car in theory (on paper & simulations) and the car on the track. They first need to understand what tools are ineffective, what tests need changing to correlate better the car in theory and the car on the track. Thats what they trying to understand. Once they get their test lab/ computers/ calculations etc on par with what the car is actually doing on the track they will then. Be able to better address the issues they have.

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