Toto Wolff admits Mercedes ‘a bit lost’ on what causes ‘downforce issues’ after team struggles with results prompted ‘late-night investigation’ to tackle car issues affecting Lewis Hamilton and George Russell
- Toto Wolff has admitted Mercedes is “at a loss” on the causes of its performance problems
- The Mercedes cars struggled again on the second day of pre-season testing
- Team director Andrew Shovlin revealed that the investigation will continue overnight
Mercedes continued to search for solutions to technical problems late into the night after a difficult second day of pre-season testing in Bahrain.
The team led by Toto Wolff lost pace on the following day of testing as both drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton struggled to match the times of their nearest competitors.
Wolff previously claimed their 2023 car was good enough to lead seven-time world champion Hamilton to an eighth world title, but admitted on Friday they were “at a loss” as to what was causing the downforce issues.
Wolff told Crash, “We’re a little lost because we don’t know where we are right now.”
Mercedes Trackside technical director Andrew Shovlin further explained in the team’s press release that the car’s balance investigation was affected by “changes in conditions” and expressed his hopes that the engineering team would rectify the track time drop.
Toto Wolff admits Mercedes ‘a bit lost’ on what’s causing performance issues in pre-season testing
Wolff and his Mercedes technical team were clearly struggling with downforce issues
Mercedes Trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has revealed that investigations will be carried out overnight to understand the problems with the cars
Shovlin explained that investigations are ongoing following Russell’s downtime due to a plumbing problem: “We didn’t have a strong second day; stopping on track due to reliability issues wasn’t great and we struggled to get the car balanced in the changing conditions.
“We’re doing some investigations to understand why it was such a challenge today, while yesterday it was quite simple.
“This work will continue into the night, and no doubt we’ll know more in the morning.
“It will be interesting tomorrow to see if we can understand the performance drop and mitigate the loss of track time.”
Russell finished the second day of testing two seconds behind Guanyu Zhou, who was setting the Alfa Romeo’s pace, while his Mercedes teammate Hamilton was an additional three tenths slower.
The Englishman finished above Hamilton in his rookie year at Mercedes last season and will be aiming for his first world title when the Bahrain Grand Prix kicks off the season on Sunday March 5.
Wolff has previously admitted the new Mercedes car is good enough to secure Lewis Hamilton’s eighth world title
Hamilton and Mercedes teammate George Russell ran out of pace on day two of Bahrain testing
However, he saw his practice laps in the Mercedes car halted with 90 minutes of track time and then told reporters that reigning world champion Max Verstappen was the favorite to win the season-opening race.
“I’m definitely going into the season believing I can win the championship,” said Russell
“Every moment in my career I believed I could do it, but once you’re on the track you’re rational.
“Red Bull looks very stable and of course Max is doing really well.”