Mercedes’ Toto Wolff: “It is very hard to see a trend from circuit to circuit”

by Paul Hensby
Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport

Toto Wolff says the outcome of the Canadian Grand Prix shows just how unpredictable Formula 1 is this season, with his Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team being outqualified and outperformed by Scuderia Ferrari at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

The opening seven races have seen three wins for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and two for Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, while the other two victories have gone the way of Daniel Ricciardo of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.

Traditionally, Mercedes had been strong at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve but in 2018 it was a different picture, with Wolff saying that there does not appear to be any kind of trend to just who will be quickest at any given time this year.

“This has been a tricky weekend for us, with Ferrari showing they had the quickest car in qualifying and in the race,” said Wolff.  “We came to Montreal expecting to perform strongly and today’s result is a further lesson to us that the historic patterns of performance between the teams are not holding true this year.

“It is very hard to see a trend from circuit to circuit, and the race results are being decided by tight margins – which team makes the fewest mistakes, develops its chassis and power unit most effectively, finds the right balance between performance and reliability, and puts together their race weekend cleanly from Friday onwards.

“Today, the fastest laps table showed three teams within 0.15s and this is the new reality of 2018.”

Valtteri Bottas finished second and Hamilton fifth on Sunday, with Wolff admitting the former did not have the pace to match that of Vettel up front, while an overheating problem affected Hamilton as he fell behind Ricciardo during the pit stop cycle.

“Looking at today’s race, Valtteri got a good start then defended extremely well from Verstappen in the first two corners,” said Wolff.  “We never had the pace to challenge Sebastian – but that move was the basis for his P2 finish.

“After this, he raced hard, hardly put a foot wrong but we didn’t have the pace for any more today.

“On Lewis’ side, we had an issue with a chassis component that compromised his cooling from the opening lap. That meant the engine was running hot and we had to manage temperatures, costing performance, in the opening stint.

“We were able to open up the bodywork at the pit-stop to improve the situation, but also lost a place to Ricciardo that we were unable to get back during the next 50 laps.”

Overall, second and fifth was not the result Wolff was hoping for and he says it is a wake-up call for the whole team, with work needing to be done ahead of the next round of the championship in France in two weeks time.

“It has been a tough weekend for us – tougher than we expected – and this result is a wake-up call for everybody in the team,” he concluded.

“We now need to reflect in the right way, understand where we can find more performance and respond in Paul Ricard in two weeks’ time.”

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