Mercedes’ Toto Wolff: “We are confident we have got a car we can work with”

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team were brought down to earth in 2022 when their run of eight consecutive World Constructors’ Championships ended as they got caught out by the new aerodynamic regulations.

After being the dominant team during the turbo hybrid era, the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season saw them win only once throughout the year, with George Russell taking the chequered flag first in Brazil.  And for the first time in his career, Lewis Hamilton ended the year without taking a single victory.

Toto Wolff, the Team Principal of Mercedes, admitted that pre-season testing did not go as smoothly as the team would have hoped, but he goes into the year more confident than they did in 2022, although he says Mercedes are still likely to be playing catch up on their main rivals early on.

“We didn’t have the smoothest winter test in Bahrain,” said Wolff ahead of this weekend’s season opening Bahrain Grand Prix..  “We had some reliability problems and struggled with the car set-up on day two.

“But the key objective was to learn about the car, and we did lots of learning. We made good progress on the final day, which gave us directions to work on in the short period between the test and this weekend’s race.

“It’s always hard to have a clear picture of competitiveness at pre-season testing – and even more so with only three days of data available. Our expectations were that we would likely be playing catch-up to the front, based on how last year ended.

“That seems to be the case so far but we will only know for sure after this weekend. Nevertheless, we are confident we have got a car we can work with and are in a stronger position than 12 months ago. More importantly, we are relishing the challenge. This championship will be fought over 23 race weekends, and each one will give us an opportunity to improve.”

Wolff says the start of any new season is always exciting, and this weekend will see just what Mercedes will need to focus on to ensure they find themselves involved in the title battle in 2023.

“The start of a new season is always exciting, whether you’ve been working in this sport for a few decades, years or weeks,” he said.  “So much hard work has gone into the W14 over the winter and the anticipation to be get racing has kept on building.

“We will be going flat out this weekend – and are determined to keep that going to the final lap in Abu Dhabi.”