Toto Wolff offered a candid assessment of Mercedes’ performance throughout the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, admitting Red Bull’s early pacemakers are “on another planet”.
Mercedes entered 2023 aiming to right the wrongs of the W13 with its revised W14 – while sticking to the ‘zero sidepod’ concept – but found themselves behind Red Bull, Ferrari and Aston Martin in that order. hierarchy at the opening of the season.
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With Lewis Hamilton and George Russell coming in fifth and seventh at Sakhir, nearly a minute behind race winner Max Verstappen and adrift of third-placed Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso, Mercedes boss Wolff must have wondered where his team is going from here.
“Well, one of the worst days in racing – really not good at all. We just lack pace front, right and centre. That’s a reflection of testing. Aston Martin is very quick, they deserve, and Red Bull is just on another planet,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.
Given the dominating nature of Red Bull’s double, Wolff added: “I think that’s what hurts because they’re so far ahead. It reminds me of our best years when we only put a second (per lap) on everyone.
“It’s the benchmark, but we have to take one step after another to come back, and we can do that – absolutely we can.”
Asked about Mercedes’ development plan, and if it’s just a matter of waiting for a rumored update at round six of the season at Imola, Wolff added: “No, I think he has to. be much more radical – much more radical in the steps than hoping for a three-tenths upgrade.
READ MORE: Mercedes brought back to ‘reality’, says Russell after P7 finish in Bahrain
One positive that Wolff took from the 2023 opener, however, was Hamilton’s post-race radio message to boost morale in the Mercedes camp, with the seven-time world champion saying “I believe in you all as the team looks to catch up. .
“It shows leadership. There must be a lot of suffering in there, because the car is so unstable, but it’s fantastic. He contributed enormously to the performance, not just in the car,” said Wolff, before the pair kissed in the Mercedes garage.
Mercedes left Bahrain third in the constructors’ standings, behind Red Bull and Aston Martin, but ahead of Ferrari after Charles Leclerc dropped one podium position.
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