Toto Wolff admits the issues the Mercedes AMG Motorsport team experienced with its new power unit during the Canadian Grand Prix weekend was a wake-up call, and had the problems reared their head at other times, the outcome of the race could have been a very different one.
Lewis Hamilton won and Valtteri Bottas finished fourth at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve but both drivers suffered with car issues during the weekend, the latter suffering a fuel system problem in the opening practice session and the former suffering a worrying hydraulic leak on the morning of the race.
Luckily for both problems the team were able to fix the problems so not to hinder either driver too much, but it was still a worry for Wolff that they could have ruined the weekend had the issues happened during Saturday’s Qualifying or during Sunday’s race.
“Canada was something of a wake-up call for us,” said Wolff. “After a run of very good reliability over the opening six races, we experienced a number of problems over the course of the weekend, almost all of which were of our own making – from the problem with the fuel system on Valtteri’s car in FP1 to the hydraulic leak on Lewis’ car which we had to fix on the morning before the race.
“We were fortunate that those reliability issues were exposed when we still had the chance to solve them, but we know that they could have easily ruined our weekend and it is down to the great skill of our mechanics that they didn’t.”
This weekend will see the eighth round of the season at the Circuit Paul Ricard for the French Grand Prix, and Mercedes will be gunning for an eighth consecutive victory to start the year.
Wolff, however, is expecting another tough fight for the honours against Scuderia Ferrari, who did take the chequered flag first with Sebastian Vettel in Canada only for the German to be handed a time penalty for returning to the track in an unsafe manner whilst battling with Hamilton.
“We expect another tough fight in France next weekend,” admits Wolff. “The circuit features some similarities to Montreal and the long straights will present a challenge for us.
“However, unlike Canada, the corner characteristics are spread across a range of speeds, which should play to our advantage. We’re looking forward to the chance to put a few things right again.
“Part of our strength over the past three months was that the entire team – at the track, in Brackley and in Brixworth – delivered to a very high level and we need to make sure that we achieve the same high standard again for France.”