Wolff: Mercedes will have further upgrades at the F1 Spanish GP hoping to continue “positive trajectory”

Photo Credits: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
Spread the love

Mercedes team principal and CEO Toto Wolff has revealed the team will bring further upgrades to its W15 at the next round in Spain, as it seeks to continue a “positive trajectory” that has been ongoing since the Emilia Romagna GP.

The Brackley squad debuted a new underfloor at Imola, which got them clear of any threat from Aston Martin, and continued the progress by introducing a new front wing at the Monaco GP, which only George Russell ran due to a lack of spares. Russell showed good pace in Monaco, finishing ahead of a struggling Max Verstappen.

In Canada, Lewis Hamilton also ran the new spec front wing, and Mercedes had its strongest showing on-track of the season, with Russell getting pole position after a dead-heat with Max Verstappen, having looked quick throughout the weekend.

But the Silver Arrows couldn’t translate that strong pace into a race win, as driver errors and strategic mistakes cost it the chance to reach the top step of the podium for the first time since late 2022.

Speaking after the race in Montreal, Wolff admitted the team “dreamt” about the win just for a few minutes before falling back to its reality:

“Maybe for a few minutes, we dreamt about it, but in reality, probably not,” he said.

But the positive news for Mercedes is that its upgrades seem to be working as expected, with the “positive trajectory” since the its first major upgrades at Imola, something that let the team down as recently as the start of 2024, with correlation issues between the wind tunnel and its simulation tools and what actually transpired out on track now seeming to be a thing of the past:

“I think definitely since Imola we’ve taken the right steps and put parts in the car that we are working. That is something that we were struggling with in the past couple of years.

“Now, directionally, we seem to be adding performance every weekend. We have new parts coming in Barcelona that should help us. I would very much hope that we can continue this positive trajectory.

“I’m always a bit worried when you’re being carried away, that everything seems to fall into place. This is a difficult sport, and we’ve had this positive trajectory since the last three races.

“Everything seems to be making much more sense. So, you know, the stopwatch will tell us.”

And whilst Wolff insisted that there’s no “silver bullet” in Mercedes’ recent progress, he did say that they found a missing piece of the “jigsaw” that has transformed its fortunes regarding car updates in recent months:

“There is no such thing as the silver bullet in Formula 1. Therefore, it was a constant work of understanding what was wrong. I know that everybody got tired by this answer. But you can’t reverse-engineer the performance of the car and say, we’re looking at a red bull and this is what we want our car to look like.

“You really need to work your way through the problems. It didn’t seem to correlate between the tunnel and the track. The car was difficult to drive.

“The ride overall was not good. We had bouncing or bottoming coming back. We had a clear indication of what we were missing in the jigsaw.

“We put the piece in and I think now it’s fine.”

Much has been said about the positive effects the new spec of front wing brought to the W15, but Wolff is adamant that there are a lot more “invisible” parts that have also contributed in making the car more of an all-rounder package recently, by virtue of “marginal gains”:

“Sometimes when you bring a highly visible part, like a bodywork or front wing, this is pretty much the talk of what has changed the performance,” he said. “The truth is we have, over the last three races, brought so many new parts, visible and invisible for the eye, that have contributed milliseconds to more performance.

“And I think this is where those marginal gains then have that positive effect. And that was just a huge effort of the factory. So I think the wheel has started to get some real motion now.”

When asked about the extent of the upgrades that will be on the car at next week’s Spanish GP, Wolff refused to elaborate much, and expects that performance will be added “bit by bit” from here on in:

“I can’t tell you. You know, sometimes when things work, interact well with each other, the overall flow structure becomes more efficient, you’re able to optimise the ride height.

“And bit by bit we have added more performance. So another step in Barcelona and hopefully we will see it on stopwatch.”

When in the right conditions, the W15 seemed to be in a class of its own in Canada. Lewis Hamilton’s FP3 performance was proof of that according to Wolff – the Briton led the session by over three-tenths to the nearest rival.

But the Austrian is not getting carried away by the strong weekend in Canada, as he admitted that the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is an “outlier” and hopes that Mercedes can perform strongly at the more traditional Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya:

“In FP3, Lewis did a lap that was out of this world. That was so quick. And then his longer one was stratospheric.

“So there was a lot of pace. In qualifying, we seemed to be very strong at the beginning and then losing a little bit of performance. Maybe we could have optimised here and there, but the car was very quick.

“But the track is very different to everything else. It’s an outlier. Hopefully we can demonstrate that we found genuine pace.”