“Verstappen is just on a different level,” admits Wolff after his dominant weekend in Spain

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Photo credits: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Yet another remarkable weekend for Red Bull in Barcelona, as Max Verstappen absolutely dominated the Montmeló circuit from Friday to Sunday.

He opened the timesheet being fastest in FP1 and kept that position through each and every session of the Spanish Grand Prix, taking pole position on Saturday and claiming not only the win but also the fastest lap in a race he lead seamlessly from lap one to the chequered flag.

Behind him – with a 24.090s gap – Lewis Hamilton and his teammate George Russell, meeting on the podium for the first time this season.

But how far ahead Red Bull really is from the rest of the grid?

“I’d love to give an answer, but I simply don’t know,” replied Toto Wolff when media asked him after quali in Barcelona. “I think Verstappen is just on a different level. It p****s me off to say that, but that is the reality.”

Mercedes had started the season on a down, but has been working on a revised design for the W14 after realising the initial concept was to be abandoned as soon as the second round in Jeddah.

Since then the team has shown signs of improvements, bringing continuous updates. The biggest so far has been the debut of new sidepods back in May at the Monaco GP, a package that was furtherly refined last weekend in Spain.

Undoubtedly a significant step ahead for the Germans that puts them ahead of the rest – Aston and Ferrari above all – but still quite far behind Red Bull.

“It is a meritocracy. They have just done the best job and the driver is driving excellently. They are just far away and that is something which only we have in our hands to get under control,” continued Wolff.

Behind that an exceptional car design, at which other teams could take a closer look in Monte Carlo, where cars were lifted quite a bit too high to leave the track after shunts.

While the internet was flooded with pictures of the flying – literally up in the sky – Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, the eyes of the paddock were for the RB19 and its wonderfully designed floor, courtesy of Adrian Newey.

Becoming even more crucial with the return of ground-effect cars, Red Bull certainly understood how to extract the best of what is the most aerodynamically sensitive area of these single-seaters.

“For me, whether it’s complex or not, if it’s fast it’s good and that floor is very fast,” said Wolff.

“I asked questions to my engineering group and they said there are interesting things that one can analyze about how airflow functions. They weren’t interested in the beauty and aesthetics of the floor, just how it functions.”

Coming back to the W14, the Team Principal is aware there is still a lot of work to do, but he seems satisfied with the steps ahead the team has managed to take from the early days.

“I’m of the belief that this car is now a solid baseline,” he said. “There’s no more talk about changing the regulations, raising the floor edges and the bouncing is a de facto non-existent topic anymore. That did happen in qualifying, but we know which direction we should have gone.

“It is from here now we can seek performance, downforce and all that. But obviously with the caveat that you can get it very wrong with the tyres.

“That’s why you see these massive swings between teammates and swings in performance depending on the ambient and track conditions,” he explained.