Toto Wolff has revealed that the problem that saw Valtteri Bottas retire from the Spanish Grand Prix was one that the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team had not seen before, and it reminds the team that they need to be on top of their game to be at the front of the field this season.
Bottas was on course to finish the race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in third place, and Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, says that technical problems will come in a championship that itself is very technical.
“It was painful to lose 15 valuable points with Valtteri retiring from P3,” said Wolff. “We’ve identified the root cause of the problem, which was the turbo.
“We haven’t seen that defect before, which shows you that you need to be double diligent. This is a technical sport and if you stretch your limits, you’ll encounter technical problems.”
Wolff saw Lewis Hamilton win in Spain, his second victory of 2017, to close the gap in the championship standings to Sebastian Vettel, while Mercedes similarly closed the gap to Scuderia Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship.
“It’s always good to come away from a race weekend with a points advantage, no matter how small,” said Wolff. “But the gap is just that: very small. We are in a massive fight with Ferrari.
“On one side, this is very exciting and challenging. But on the other side, it is going to stretch us to our limits. You cannot base your current assessment on the balance of power on just Barcelona.”
Wolff expects the Monaco Grand Prix to be completely different to Spain, and the team will have to maximise its potential and get everything spot-on to enjoy a strong weekend in the principality.
“We expect Monaco to be a completely different ball game to Barcelona,” said Wolff. “The circumstances, working environment and driving challenges are completely different to anywhere else – and you need to get everything exactly right if you want to perform to your maximum around those streets.
“Not every factor is under your control, either, so you need to turn fortune in your favour at the right time if you want everything to come together.”
Wolff admits that the start to the 2017 season has seen him fall back in love with Formula 1, with the battles with Ferrari giving the instances where they take the race victories giving him a greater sense of pride.
“Every weekend will push us to the limit; this is the new reality of Formula One in 2017,” said Wolff. “The last three years were extraordinary. But this season I have re-discovered why I love the sport. I love the intense competition.
“This competition means that you won’t be winning easily – but that you’ll have a fierce fight on your hands. Because of that, the feeling is even greater when you manage to come out on top, as we did in Spain.
“If we get the job done in Monaco, I’m pretty sure we’ll bring down the garage roof. We’re all properly fired up for this fight, so let’s see what we can do…”