Toto Wolff: No quick solutions to solve Hamilton’s issues ahead of Spanish F1 Grand Prix
Mercedes
Posted By: Editor   |  08 May 2017   |  1:29 pm GMT  |  213 comments

Mercedes Executive Director Toto Wolff has said that the team needs to undertake “24/7 shifts” to beat Ferrari in the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix this weekend. On a tricky weekend for Lewis Hamilton in Russia, the team is still trying to diagnose the issues which led the 2015 champion to finish fourth.

The lessons of the first four races are that the 2017 Pirelli F1 tyres are working well on the Ferrari across a wider range of situations than the Mercedes, especially the softer end of the range. While Valtteri Bottas got the car working in Sochi to take the win, the team lost the front row of the grid for only the second time in the hybrid turbo era and Lewis Hamilton couldn’t get the car dialled into the tyres on a consistent basis all weekend.

“I always enjoy going to Russia but it was a tricky weekend for us,” said Wolff.

“The prevailing feeling is that there is lots of homework to do to come back stronger with a car that can perform on a consistent level every weekend. I have the feeling that we are moving in the right direction but we need 24/7 shifts to achieve our ultimate targets.”

Hamilton encountered overheating issues early on in Russia, forcing him to stay out of the wake of opponents to provide cool air for the struggling radiators.

Furthermore, Mercedes found it very difficult to keep the softest tyre compound in the optimum temperature window which was an issue that blighted Hamilton more than team-mate and winner Valtteri Bottas, leaving heads scratching.

“We expected Valtteri to develop through every single race and step up his performance and he’s shown that. He’s coped extremely well with his calm approach to setbacks and he hasn’t been carried away with success,” continued Wolff.

“It came early in Bahrain with the pole position and then he had a setback in the race. He replied with an exceptional performance in Sochi, in just his fourth Grand Prix for Mercedes, and showed that he’s on the right path.

“On the flip side, Lewis had a difficult weekend in both qualifying and the race. We have spent our time since then unpicking what happened to understand why we couldn’t get the car in the right window so he could feel comfortable with it – there are no magic bullets to understanding that, just a lot of hard work and attention to detail. We must give him the tools he needs to do the job in the next races and that will be a big focus for us.”

Change of atmosphere in Barcelona

The mood in the Mercedes camp has evidently been shaped by Nico Rosberg’s battle with Hamilton in 2016. The two team-mates collided on the first lap of the Spanish Grand Prix last year, with neither driver admitting blame for the crash which strained their relationship and sparked a season-long rivalry.

Rosberg received team orders in the following race in Monaco last year, having had to begrudgingly let Hamilton past early on, and the scrap between the two carried on until the champion retired before the 2017 season.

At this early stage, Bottas and Hamilton seem amicable, but Wolff implies that things could still heat up as the Mercedes drivers battle Ferrari and Red Bull and between themselves.

“This inter-team battle is a totally different situation that what we have seen over the last three years,” said Wolff.

“You simply need to adapt to the challenge and that’s what we are doing, playing the hunter as well as being the hunted. At the moment there are two top teams fighting for both championships and I expect Red Bull will also eventually join the club.

“The small margins we are seeing this season are demonstrated by the closeness at the top of the Drivers’ championship and even more so by the one point advantage we have in the Constructors’. This fight will continue on to the end of the season and we will be prepared for that battle.”

Pre-season testing showed that Ferrari was catching up to Mercedes in defiance of their poor form in this hybrid era. Wolff is quietly optimistic that this trip to Spain will result in a familiar dominance by the Silver Arrows.

“Barcelona will be interesting as our pre-season was not spectacular in Spain. It’s a very different track to Sochi and we’ll be running with harder tyres. We are taking this season one race at a time. If we deliver the best possible work from Friday onwards, then we’ll be ready to win and fight with Ferrari.”

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1

Does anyone know if Hamilton has the same mechanics as last year? I thought they would give him back his 2015 mechanics!

2

I do get this weird feeling that Lewis is heading back to McLaren next year – May be he wants to get them back to greatness!! he likes being an underdog and overcoming all odds. I’m sure McLaren will pay him huge and if by then Honda still doesn’t improve, he can bid goodbye & if he indeed wins it for them, he goes to the top of the table with respect greatness!!!

ps: did I smoke up something 😉

3

normal if they are few and far between. suspicious if they result in influencing championship outcomes..

4

I think everyone needs to calm down, pretty sure the media are just looking for something to get excited about as Russia was such a snooze fest (as usual)! Hamilton had an off weekend, as he does from time to time, as do most drivers (apart from Alonso). He came 4th its not exactly the end of the world.

Spain will set the tone for the next few months, if Merc can turn up with something brilliant they could well take a bit of catching again. Ferrari seem to have a well balanced easy to drive car that works it’s tyres well so they are always going to be there or thereabouts this year but they need to make progress, something they haven’t been good at recently. Perhaps that’s down to not trying too hard due to the title being effectively over as soon as it started but Red Bull will improve so they need to be looking at them too. Mercedes, in the hands of Bottas at least just had the faster race car in Russia. Arguably in the first three races Vettel had the pace to win them all and would have if a couple of things had happened differently, he never looked like winning in Russia though.

5

Lewis has the talent of a champion but shows zero interest in developing the mindset of one. Someone should probably point out to him, previous greats like say Mcenroe in other sports who failed to fulfill their potential. Keep going this way, and Bottas will outdo him the same way Nico did.

6

Mercedes’ problems are in their head. Both in Totos’ and Lewis’. Every time Lewis get beaten fair and square, there is always an imaginary problem. Get a grip, As Bottas may be quicker than Nico i am sure Lewis’ car will have a lot more problems throughout the season.

7
Andrew Halliday

Spain will be the first race I attend this year. Hopefully it’s not a procession as has been predicted. If Ferrari and Mercedes are closely matched, there could be a decent fight at the front. I’d like to see Bottas get another victory but I’d settle for a Raikkonen victory as well. You never know though, just look at last year….

8

@ Andrew Halliday…what about conjuring up a concise race report from a fans POV….would be good to read.

9
Clarks4WheelDrift

Just for once, I wish Toto wouldn’t say…

“why we couldn’t get the car in the right window so he could feel comfortable with it”
“We must give him the tools he needs to do the job”
“mechanics working 24/7 to fix Lewis’s problem”

why the constant need to pander to Lewis, is he that fragile?
He should be saying…

“Valtteri completely smashed him in Russia, qually and race, Lewis needs to get his head and backside in gear.”

“He needs to sort his consistency as Seb and Fernando are both available next year”

“Cooling, Cooling! He was in clear air most of the time, Kimi dropped him and he finished 25 seconds behind him! Behind Kimi! 25 seconds!! Unbelievable! Interview over get me to zee chopper!”

10

Hahaha this is brilliant Clarks4WheelDrift!

11

@ Clark4WD …The reason Wolff blats on is because he’s ceded control of the team to Hamilton. Hamilton calls the shots. The refusal of Hamilton to follow team orders in Abu Dhabi was the tipping point. He put up and wolff backed off. Wolff even apologised to him later! No Team Chief ever does that without losing authority over his driver. He may choose to defuse a situation but never cede the point and reverse 100%. To do that is weak and in times of crisis sometimes fatal. Bottas may never win another race but at least he’s showed his mettle and he came out on top. I say best of luck to him, it won’t be easy from now on.

12

Kenneth, any evidence to back up your claim?

13

Please Tim! Stop with this! Kenneth needs his happy place…. a place where RIC is the 3 time WDC, a 54 gp race winner, has 63 pole positions, where Australia are good at rugby, cricket, football and motorsport, where RIC is the 2nd coming and HAM the seed of lucifer.
LH may have one or 2 bad races a year…. Ken and Co need to make the most of it when he does. When he bounces back… as he ALWAYS does, they will be silent and I won’t rub their noses in it… I will just feel warm inside and smile. Let them have their time it won’t last.

14

@ Dean…WOW you have really exceeded all my expectations with your understanding of human nature and the intricate patterns of inherent needs and subsequent behaviour. I have already gone on record, in this thread actually, where i have acknowledged that your man has it all sown up for the future and these early disappointments are simply an unexpected and irrelevant side issue, a mere chimera, momentarily masking the endeavours of ‘the great one’. Order will be re established in Barca this coming week end when Hamilton takes the win convincingly and consigns Bottas to the history books as an unworthy and [one off ] troublesome team mate. Should i give you another ‘uptick’? I’m thinking about it hahaha.

15

has it all sown…

Did you mean sewn? Sown is the past participle of sow which makes no sense in this context.

16

After the “Snapchat” weekend, bouncing back didn’t matter. Nico just needed to choke his way to the title, (and that he did). The embarrassing damage had already been done.

17

Hello. The snapchat weekend was Japan, after that Lewis scored 100 out of a possible 100 points. Does that not count as bouncing back?

18

Lol, does he need to? Its pretty obvious to anyone that follows F1 that Toto does more backflips than Olympic divermand that they normally revolve around one driver particularly.

19

Sarsippious, does he? Examples please.

20

I’ll give you a hundred examples just so you can give me 100 excuses. No thanks!

21

Sarsippious, I will settle for two examples, I promise not to make any excuses.

22

Is this Mercedes anticipating their star signing getting beaten again this year by either an Italian car driven by a German or worse his Finnish team mate. They seem to be prepping the media and sowing the seed that it’s all their fault again same as last year

23

I think Hamilton really needs to keep his head up. At times last year you could see his head dipped as he became combative in the press and media and his performances were more scrappy. He needs to keep clam, tackle each weekend in isolation and continue to grind out points. 4th place in Russia is by no means a disaster and he can bide his time as Ferrari will inevitably hit a rough patch at some point.

If you look at the margin they had over Ferrari last season, it would take an almighty swing for them to fully recover and provided Mercedes are on top of their reliability problems they should be able to grind out a result over the season.

24

According to Martin Brundle Mercedes and all the teams try to use smaller ducts for brakes etc to cut down on the frontal area hence making the car slippery through the air. If that is the case it would explain Lewis’s issues in turbulent air, and Bottas less because of cleaner air. Whenever Mercedes have a bad race (Hamilton) they bounce back with a vengeance in the next race. They may well obliterate the red cars in Spain.

25

Either the problem is solved and Toto is saying this to demoralise the others when Lewis goes 0.3 secs quicker. Or this is a public shot at Lewis for some reason. Maybe the “Lewis thing” has been quite bad last week.

I still suspect Lewis to be back on it in Spain but I think Bottas is quicker than Nico, so all may not be rosy in the garden for much longer. It will be fun to watch either way.

26

Of course if you listen to some of the regular commentators on this site (they know who they are) this is all part of the Mercedes plan. According to them, Mercedes have a large box of trick-parts that they can bring out when needed. In the meantime they are letting Ferrari win a few races to make the competition look good and keep the tifosi happy. What they seem to overlook or choose to overlook is the fact that the Mercedes is already a fantastic car. They are 1-2 sec a lap faster than all other cars (except Ferrari) including those with Mercedes engines. To say that on top of that they could be sandbagging is fanciful in my opinion. It would make the likes of Williams and Red Bull complete basket cases.
These same commentators can’t accept that Ferrari is capable of turning out a great car, especially without the help of British superstars like Allison or Fry. Guess what, they have.

27

Why Toto goes to these great lengths to spin this PR rubbish I’ll never know. How hard is to just say clearly that Lewis purely had an off weekend compared to his normal high standards. All drivers have them at times, even Zeus himself, and the only way to handle them is to immediately begin focusing on the next race.

These so called issues are something all the teams have faced over the past few years with these cars and his apparent expression that Mercedes are somehow surprised by them suddenly is cringe worthy.

Yet in saying that I understand it though was well since having the ability nurse the modern Formula One drivers fragile ego is a must have trait for any team principal.

28

Ther problrm with all that Sarsippious is Toto is saying that they don’t know what the issues were in Sochi. Obviously Lewis had a bad weekend, but clearly it was a set up issue that him and his team would normally be able to solve. Why they couldn’t do that is the problem they are trying to solve.

29

To add, considering that clean air is king in the modern formula and that its the one area in particular where Ferrari seems to have an edge with their ability to follow closely without suffering to the degree Merc is, I wonder if it will be long till we see them bring in a change to the side-pods and air intake similar to what we see on the Ferrari?

30

@ Sars…. maybe it’s going to be quid pro quo…we’ll help out with the PU and you help us out with the aero? As if hahaha

31

It’s nearly two weeks since Sochi Tim. Don’t you think Mercedes, with all their resources, would have clued onto the cause by now?
We all love a conspiracy theory around here however its pretty clear, to me anyway, that Toto is trying to take the blame for what was simply a poor drive from Lewis that wasn’t helped with a car that was over-heating in the wake of Kimi.
End of move on or so you’d think. Instead we get two weeks of report after report of Toto trying to take us all for fools.

32

@ Sars….if Kimi’s wake was the contributing factor, how come he wasn’t within 3 secs or so off Kimi at the end instead of 25 secs down the road? Did Zeus throw in the towel?

33

Think its obvious he did isn’t it? Back off, complain loudly knowing it will be broadcast and then have Toto ride shotgun in his defence with a bogus ‘unknown car issue’. The guy’s all heart!

34

Sarsippious, are you suggesting the cooling issue was all a hoax?

35

Kenneth, yes he did, he told us this after the race. When it became clear that running close enough to Kimi to attempt an overtake was impossible, he did the sensible thing and turned the engine down and brought it home.

36

Sarsippious, I guess we will never know, I also guess it doesn’t really matter and this will be one of those things that gets forgotten about pretty quickly. I would say that modelling the tyres interaction with the surface is the most difficult thing for the teams to do, so maybe they genuinely have drawn a blank. Do you think Toto would go to such efforts to take the blame for something they know is Lewis’ fault really? I doubt it, but like I said we will never know.
I’m not sure of Ferrari’s ingenious side pod shaping can be copied mid season, so they will probably maintain that advantage through the year, but everyone will copy it for next year, unless it is banned of course! They all have big updates as usual for Barcelona so we will see what the pecking order is, but fundamental characteristics in how cars treat the tyres tend to remain in my experience.

37

The “there are no magic bullets” comment would seem to imply it was a setup problem. Since this did not seem to be an issue in the other races it was probably race track specific i.e. Sochi
That does leave a question mark on what the outcome will be in subsequent tracks in which the setup is not quite straightforward.
One can’t help wondering how much Mercedes relied on Rosberg in this area and to what extent this was shared across the garage.

38

@ 75RR…according to some Hamilton is king of all set ups, supposedly. Ask Aveli.

39

The big question would be, is Toto trying to destroy Hamilton’s career the same way McLaren is doing with Fernando Alonso? It smells fishy!

40

As the mercedes drivers battle with red bull.That is really funny stuff

41

@ Scott….In millenial speak that wouldn’t be funny, it would ‘awesome’ or, wait for it ‘surreal’.

42

…”blessed”

43

@ LKFE….How so? Is it the same person who has ‘blessed’ me that a while back was the ‘someone [up there] who doesn’t want me to win’?

44

Well, we all know how fickle he can be…not to mention there’s about 300 different versions of him…God that is…no, wait…are we talked about the the blessor or the blessee?

45

@ LKFE…hahahah both.

46

LKFE, do you guys ever think that you might be scraping the barrel, just a little bit?

47

I expect Hamilton to be on Spain pole by 3 tenths of a second now.

48

Well there is a guess

49

@ James T….of course. Sochi was blip on hamilton’s radar. Nothing to get concerned about. He will surge to the front in all sessions and take the race with the customary aplomb, befitting of a 3x WDC and master of the universe. Bon Chance.

50

And there will be no mention of the guys in the factory that worked 24/7 to fix the ‘issues’ from Sochi. Me, me and nothing but me!

51

Sarsippious, I bet you a hundred of your chosen currency that if Lewis does win in Spain, one of the first things he will do will be to thank the team for all their hard work. I am very confident that I will be taking your money as he does this EVERY SINGLE TIME that he wins a race! Obviously the truth about Lewis isn’t something you have ever shown any interest in, but if you want me to give you examples I am happy to do that.

52

100 gold bars will be fine thanks Tim!

53

sarsippious, money in the bank! I’m flicking through Dan the mans new clothing range as we speak….

54

Dan the mans new clothing range…

lol – he did a photo shoot in Mens Style Australia (I know 3 words not normally in the same sentence) recently – have you seen any of the pictures? He’s getting more tattoos, moody photo shoots – could he possibly try any harder to emulate Hamilton?

55

C63, it is obvious who his hero is isn’t it? Although the original will always be remembered more than the pretenders! Interesting that he is getting more tattoos, it’s funny but I do remember a certain regular poster being very critical about Lewis’ tattoo count a while back. Somebody did tell him that Ricciardo had some ink, at which point the usual volte face was performed and it was suddenly decided that a few tasteful tats were completely acceptable! I wonder if you can guess who the mystery man is? I will give you a clue, despite constantly telling us all that he doesn’t like talking about Hamilton, he has at the time of writing left a whopping 32 comments on this clearly labelled Lewis article….

56

getting more tattoos…

I noticed in one of the photos he was wearing shoes without socks – the very epitome of cool – and on his ankle he appears to have a tattoo of a compass!
Maybe he uses it to find his foot, although he might be better off trying to find a quicker car 🙂

57

C63:

So you went out and got a copy like I suggested. Well done! Did you notice the absence of gold chains and diamond ear studs and all the other extraneous stuff like parading look a likes of Roscoe and Coco. I mean really mate even you being the smart man you are would have to acknowledge that trotting out Justin Beiber at Monaco was the height of self indulgence. Even you? Then again maybe not.

58

@ Adrian hahaha i like it.

59

got a copy like I suggested..

Lol – are you kidding? I just googled it. To be honest I wasn’t sure whether you were making it up. The title sounds like someone’s having a laugh for starters. As for your comments regarding JB at Mon – I honestly couldn’t care less about that sort of thing. It is honestly of no consequence to me whatsoever – it’s just a business thing, no? I would imagine they were both trying to access one another fans – a bit of mutual back scratching.

60

C63:

“got a copy like I suggested”

Did you really think I was serious?? C’mon now mate surely you don’t mind me having a little dig of my own? I mean I got the idea from your good self. And you googled it too. Ok!

But let’s be serious for a minute about JB and Lewis. I asked my daughter this morning what is Bieber’s fan base and she replied young girls. Now considering this and the age difference between the two I sort of wonder why does Lewis have to trot him out at an F1 race especially one in the principality of Monaco and allow him to drink champagne from the victor’s trophy. Ok it’s not a hanging offense but to me and some of my mates here who follow F1 (some who are Brits) we question the appropriateness of it and regard it as just a little crass.

I acknowledge that you don’t care about it and that’s your opinion and fair enough but I think this sort of thing just gives Lewis’ critics more ammunition that they can fire at him. Not that he gives a continental though.

61

But let’s be serious for a minute about JB and Lewis….question the appropriateness of it and regard it as just a little crass…..

Personally I doubt that LH has the sort of clout that would allow him carte blanche to bring whoever he wants to the podium ceremony at Monaco. That must have been approved by someone higher up the food chain – maybe someone like Bernie who would have recognised the marketing opportunities it presented. I’m guessing that JB’s young fans have parents who these young fans will pester to buy them things. It’s just business.
Do you know something that makes me laugh – all these ‘experts’ on the internet (I’m not pointing a finger at you btw) who think they know what’s best. Yet Ham is the one who climbs aboard his own private jet and travels back to one of his many homes around the globe and hops into million pound cars whenever the fancy might take him. I think it might be fair to suggest that he knows just a bit more than they do about these sort of things – just a thought 🙂

62

C63………Agree with the things you said in your second paragraph although not too sure about the third though. But thanks anyway.

You know who I personally would have preferred Lewis to have brought to Monaco (the ‘prize’ race that had alluded him from memory) would have been his mum. Marketing aside I think that would have been a nicer touch than the tweeny bopper. I’m sure BE would have had no problems with that.

63

the ‘prize’ race that had alluded him…

Ham’s won Monaco twice – should have been 3x but hey ho, them’s the breaks I guess.
Regarding his Mum – he looks after her very well. He bought her a lovely house in little village not far from where I live. It’s not flashy, just very nice. Funnily enough I was invited to a sports club fund raising quiz night in the same village a few weeks back – I don’t know if you have these sort of things in your neck of the woods – anyway, I only knew a couple of the people on our team (the people who had invited me) and it turned out one couple on our table live just a few doors away from her. Apparently she is really nice, not pretentious and never mentions her famous son.

64

C63………. I stand corrected 1 win and 1 gifted! No seriously 2 wins. Lewis drove himself into a position to take advantage of RB’s error and the rest is history.

I mentioned Lewis’ mum because if looks is anything to go by she appears to be a lovely person. I particularly liked the way she warmly embraced Lewis in the Merc garage after he lost the WDC last season. I think he would have appreciated that very much. I don’t think she would be the type to gloat about Lewis’ achievements. Goodness me they speak for themselves!

No we don’t have villages here just country towns of various sizes and fairly spread out. It’s a big, big country where in the winter months you can go snow skiing and in the same day fly north and be in sub-tropical temperature.

I’m in the great State of Western Australia in Danny Ricc’s home town of Perth. He is sometimes known as the ‘Boy from Duncraig’ which is suburb north of Perth about 15 kilometers from me. A bit about Dan: the son of Italian parents Joe and Grace who made enormous sacrifices so he could pursue his love of motor racing. I think, but not sure, his father owned a trucking business. Pretty modest guy Dan who when in high school would go to motor racing competitions in the eastern states and would not even talk about it on return. His mates in school would have to literally drag the results out of him. While still a young man his parents sent him to live in Italy to be exposed to more of the Italian culture and language . Although there are a lot of Italians in Perth.

Did you notice how Dan and Lewis warmly embraced each other in the cool down room yesterday. They seem to be good friends.

65

@ sars…hahaah what issues? Anyway it doesn’t matter because i’m ‘blessed’ to have such a dedicated team to support me….when i win.

66

And what about the soon to be corrected excess weight?

67

Erm, the other car seems to be working ok. It’s all in his head.

68

Members of the press are giving this story too much play. They act as if Lewis’s poor, so far one race performance, is similar to the problems that Jenson Button was having, when he was teamed with Lewis in 2012.

Lewis HamiltonLewis Hamilton
69

Why didn’t Bottas have a cooling problem?

70

Because he was mostly in cleaner air. That tends to happen when you have a blinding start and leave the others in your dirty air.

71

@ David…we all know that, but why wasn’t hamilton on the very back of Raikonnen instead of being 25 secs back down the road.? The turbulent air mainly dissipates around 3/5 secs behind…or so it would seem. Some drivers say it doesn’t really give them a problem until they are only 2 secs adrift. So 25 secs back couldn’t possibly be a result of overheating brakes due to lack of proximity.

72

“While Valtteri Bottas got the car working in Sochi to take the win, the team lost the front row of the grid for the first time in the hybrid turbo era”..

James, Mercedes lost the front row at the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix, they qualified 5th & 6th.

73

Sandbagging Wolff , he is a true wolf after all 😉 !

Hamilton and Wolff are trying very hard to sandbag Ferrari into false confidence. With Vettel , I expect them to look through these games.

74

One more victory for Bottas and the conspiracy theories will start to fly.
It’s always the equipment not the fact that he simply gets outraced.

75

I think they have already started flying…….It can’t possibly be the driver. If it was any other driver then yes it could be that he got outraced. But Hamilton? Never!

76

Of coarse they will…how else do you explain getting consecutively beaten by two mid-fielders.

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