Mercedes’ Toto Wolff: “This circuit has not been kind to us over the past two years”


Großer Preis von Kanada 2016, Freitag. Credit: Mercedes AMG PETRONAS

Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff, believes the German squad will not have quite the dominant gap to the rest of the field they are used to at the 2016 Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend, as the characteristics of the low power Budapest track tend to favour their competitors, who the Austrian believes will be a major threat to them on Sunday.

“This circuit plays to the strengths of our rivals. The Red Bull, for example, is a car that functions well where high drag isn’t penalised as much as at other types of circuit. So, in wet conditions and at low-speed circuits such as the Hungaroring, they are a major threat.

The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS squad have only taken one win at the Hungaroring since returning to Formula One as a constructor in 2010, when driver Lewis Hamilton took victory in 2013, and they would ideally like to strengthen that record with a strong result for both drivers this weekend.

“We will need to be flawless to come out on top at this track. We are also now entering a time where things are complicated even more by some big decisions to be made. Every week we must analyse how much resource we move across to the 2017 project – but that’s a tricky balance.”

Whilst the Mercedes squad have primarily concentrated on development of their 2016 car so far this season, Wolff confirmed that they are now starting to move resources across to their 2017 project bit by bit. Striking the right balance between current and future projects is a dilemma they now face every weekend, as the current world champions strive to ensure they do not find themselves behind the rest of the field, come next season and its raft of rule changes.

“Some teams will have stopped 2016 development very early – as early as February maybe, once the current cars hit the circuit. That does give them an advantage, as the learning curve is very steep at the beginning. If you are a few weeks behind you can find yourselves much further back in the end.

“We may be halfway through the battle for this year – but the hard work is only just beginning.”