Wolff calls Brazilian GP Mercedes’ “worst weekend in 13 years”

Formula 1

Posted on

| Written by and

Mercedes suffered their worst Formula 1 weekend in 13 years at the Brazilian Grand Prix said their team principal Toto Wolff.

Only one of the team’s cars reached the finish, Lewis Hamilton taking eighth place, over a minute behind race winner Max Verstappen. George Russell retired the other Mercedes as his power unit was overheating.

Both drivers struggled with high tyre degradation in Sunday’s grand prix and the sprint race the day before. It came as a blow to the team following their more competitive showings in the previous two races.

“I think sprint race weekends have generally not been our strengths,” said Wolff. Teams only have a single hour of practice during sprint events and Mercedes have previously said this compromises their ability to get the best out of a chassis which has a very narrow operating window.

“We are working ourselves out of problems most weekends,” Wolff added. “[Performance] swings are on, but swings are not on from being almost quickest to being we wherever we ended up, eighth. But for me personally that was worst weekend in 13 years.”

“Generally, the development of this car is more plasters that we put on something that’s not right,” he explained. “And it shows that it’s so unpredictable that it can swing either [way], within being six, seven, eight tenths off when you just tip over the edge and then nothing goes [right].”

However he believes their dip in performance was no worse than some of their rivals have experienced during 2023.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“When I look at our competitors, even between the cars, Red Bull doesn’t get things wrong often [but] in Singapore the car was not competitive. Aston, within one week from being outside of the points to having a solid podium.

“McLaren in the first part of the season were not making it out of Q1 sometimes and are now hunting Max. It is sometimes a nasty surprise box for all of us. We got it probably for us today as bad as some of the other teams got it.”

Mercedes won the Brazilian Grand Prix last year, at which point they were debating internally whether to persist with the car concept they ultimately stuck with into the start of this season. The team has since decided to go in a different direction for next year, and before this weekend announced the departure of chief technical officer Mike Elliott, who had been moved out of the role of technical director six months earlier.

Wolff said their poor performance last weekend shows they were correct to pursue a new development path for 2024.

“At least we know it confirms that the trajectory of changing fundamentally is right,” he said. “Last year you come out of an Interlagos weekend and you’re absolutely on top, you’re demolishing your competition Saturday and Sunday, and that was like ‘are we doing the right thing by continuing with the chassis that we have?’ and now it’s pretty clear. It feels horrible for the whole team and I wish we could start in the new season and concentrate on the new car.”

“But what we know is that we’re changing the car completely,” he added. “And we are an outlier compared to the past eight years where we’ve been in the front, solid, with the structure and people to perform at the front, whether that’s winning championships or not that’s on a different piece of paper.

“But I think it more confirms that the steps that we did are necessary.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Brazilian Grand Prix

Browse all 2023 Brazilian Grand Prix articles

Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

9 comments on “Wolff calls Brazilian GP Mercedes’ “worst weekend in 13 years””

  1. For years Toto had a great team of people around him. From Niki, to Paddy, to James Vowles, and many more. All of them gone now. James Allison was hastily brought back from “promotion.” A lot of their engine department was gutted by Red Bull Powertrains. So far, it appears to me at least, nothing has really been done to compensate for all these losses. Promoting from within is all well and good, but after two years of failure, I do wonder if perhaps we’ve seen the last of Mercedes as a top team.

    I guess I’ll have to wait until next year to find out. I wouldn’t be opposed to McLaren being the better Mercedes team again, to be perfectly honest.

    1. I do wonder if perhaps we’ve seen the last of Mercedes as a top team.

      They’re second in the WCC, and can more than hold their own against the other manufacturer teams.

      The real question is why Red Bull seems to handle its tyres so well. It’s high time for the other teams to force through some ‘discovery’ by coming up with a slew of outlandish designs they may or may not intend to race for the FIA to rule on and see if that triggers some ‘changes’ at Red Bull. Oh – and dump everyone who agreed to this self-defeating engine freeze; including Mr. Wolff.

      The Red Bull car is quick, but its baseline speed is quite beatable – as many qualifying sessions have demonstrated.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        6th November 2023, 14:52

        The Red Bull car is quick, but its baseline speed is quite beatable – as many qualifying sessions have demonstrated.

        I’m not entirely sold on that – it looks close but then it’s not at all in the race. I think they are just throwing bones towards the opposition to keep them from banding together and asking for changes.

        The fact that McLaren, Mercedes, Ferrari, and Aston Martin have scored the same number of podiums is the perfect scenario for Red Bull. In fact, Perez should be making as much as Verstappen for being 2nd in the WDC and allowing the teams to score that many podiums and keep them all happy.

        He’s the reason there are no changes.

      2. About: “The Red Bull car is quick, but its baseline speed is quite beatable – as many qualifying sessions have demonstrated.”

        Maybe RB focusses not only on the qualy but also on the race? That way they have to give up some performance during the qualy sessions.

  2. Mercedes should sell to Andretti. They’re out of answers. We’re 2 years into the new spec and they can’t figure it out. Exit the sport before it negatively impacts sales of Mercedes branded cars.

    1. @jimfromus they got it wrong with the zeropod concept and wrongfully tried to develop it into something good for 2023, but very early on this year realized it would not work. Problem is, given the budget cap, they could not redevelop an entirely new car for 2023 anymore.
      They will come with a whole new car next year, so let’s reserve judgement until then.

    2. Still P2 in WCC and maybe also im WDC. Should Ferrari also leave?

      1. Lol.. My thoughts exactly.
        P2 in the WCC is an absolutely disastrous season for Mercedes. A really strong season for Ferrari is if they finish P2 in the WCC.

        Mercedes made a fatal mistake of trying something innovative that backfired and cost them nearly two seasons, so if they correct the concept flaw.. there’s no doubt they’ll be more formidable than now. I reckon they’ll be a comfortable P2 in the WCC next year, and will be the only contenders to Red Bull in 2025 before the regulation changes kick in for 2026.

  3. Toto must be forgetting the 2019 German GP

Comments are closed.