Made a good step forward this weekend: Mercedes boss Toto Wolff after Australian GP

Wolff later acknowledged that the W14's improved performance in Melbourne may have been track-specific.

Toto Wolff in a file photo. (Image: Twitter)
By Nilavro Ghosh | Apr 6, 2023 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Toto Wolff is optimistic about Mercedes’ progress after Lewis Hamilton secured the Silver Arrows’ first podium finish of the year in Melbourne, but he is troubled by the “mind-boggling” speed gap between the W14 and Red Bull’s RB19. At Albert Park, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton qualified in positions two and three, respectively. Both drivers got off to a quick start and passed Max Verstappen on the opening lap. Russell and Hamilton then led the race for the first seven laps in a Mercedes one-two.

“I think we made a good step forward this weekend on both single lap and race pace,” the Austrian said. “Is this where our baseline needs to be? I’m not sure. I think we maximised what we have. I think it was good to see we were racing Ferrari and Aston Martin, and we just need to consolidate that. And the more we learn about the car, and bring the upgrade packages, we can challenge the leaders more.”

When asked about Red Bull’s pace, Wolff said, “[Red Bull] have a straight-line speed advantage with the DRS open that is just mind-boggling. But this is meritocracy, this is sport and if you have a car that is that quick on a straight, it is up to us to sort this out and find tools in order to have that same straight-line performance.”

Wolff later acknowledged that the W14’s improved performance in Melbourne may have been track-specific after finishing over 50 seconds behind Verstappen in Bahrain and 25 seconds behind Sergio Perez in Saudi Arabia. “I think [the style of track] was very much an advantage for us,” Wolff revealed. “Our car lacks a little bit of performance at the rear end and that track definitely helped us. So, that’s making us look a little bit better than we should be, but we know where the weaknesses are and we just need to sort them out.”

For the first time in Formula One history, an ex-driver has decided to take legal action against the championship result. Former Felipe Massa informed to the world earlier this week that he would be taking things to the court over the result of the contentious 2008 Formula One driver’s world championship. That season, Lewis Hamilton won the first of his seven world championships with McLaren. At the time, Massa was at Ferrari alongside then defending champion Kimi Raikkonen.

If the decision is ruled in the Brazilian’s favour, Massa could become the last driver to win a driver’s championship with Ferrari, and Hamilton would be a title short of Michael Schumacher.

Anyone even remotely in touch with the world of Formula One will know about the infamous crashgate scandal which took place at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. In the event, Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr. deliberately crashed his car so that his teammate Fernando Alonso could claim the victory. However, this one incident would have a butterfly effect which would eventually see Massa robbed of a world championship.

Read More – Formula One ‘crashgate’ scandal: What was it all about?

The story of what happened after the crash is simple. Massa was a driver with the Scuderia at the time and after Piquet Jr crashed, a safety car was deployed, under which Ferrari would make a complete hash of the Brazilian’s pitstop and tyre strategy. This saw him lose out to Hamilton in terms of points in race as he would eventually go on to win the championship by just one point over the Brazilian.