Formula 1

Saudi Arabia weekend a “reflection of where we currently stand” – Mercedes’ Toto Wolff

2 Mins read
Credit: LAT Images

Toto Wolff reckons the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix result for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team highlighted just where the team are at this point of the season as George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished fifth and tenth respectively.

Mercedes went into the race after a less than impressive performance in Bahrain, and it was equally difficult as both Scuderia Ferrari and Oracle Red Bull Racing more than had the beating of them at the Jeddah Cornice Circuit, with Russell half a minute back on race winner Max Verstappen and Hamilton over seventy seconds behind in the last of the points paying positions.

Wolff, the Team Principal at Mercedes, says the results in Saudi Arabia mean the team have a lot of work to do to play catch up to the leading two teams, both in Qualifying and in the races.

“Today’s race was the reflection of where we currently stand,” said Wolff.  “The performance gaps seemed to be similar in qualifying and the race, and clearly there is a lot of work for us to do in order to get into the fight at the front.”

Wolff was pleased with the way Russell performed in Jeddah, feeling the Briton got the maximum out of his W13, while he bemoaned the timing of the virtual safety car and the closing of the pit lane late in the day that prevented Hamilton from finishing higher up the field than he achieved.

“George managed his race well and scored the maximum we could have hoped for today without any incidents ahead of him,” he said.  “For Lewis, it was always going to be a difficult afternoon from P15.

“The first Safety Car came too early to run to the end on Medium, so we stayed out like other cars that started on Hard; then we missed the opportunity to box just before the pit lane closed under the VSC, which cost us a couple of positions.

“The overall picture is sobering, and it’s clear that we need to continue working hard if we wish to deliver a stronger performance in Melbourne.”

“We have an enormous challenge ahead of us” – Andrew Shovlin

Andrew Shovlin, the Track Engineering Director at Mercedes, also admitted it was a tough weekend for the team in Saudi Arabia, with the Jeddah track proving more difficult than the Bahrain International Circuit just seven days earlier.

Shovlin says the team are ‘under no illusions’ that they are on the back foot at this point of the season, and they have an ‘enormous challenge’ to come, but he knows that they can get on top of the performance issues that have cost them dearly in the opening two races of the season.

“It’s been a tough weekend and we need to go back and regroup ahead of Melbourne,” said Shovlin.  “The circuit here has been more difficult for us than Bahrain and we’re under no illusions where we stand at the moment but we need to remain focused and effective.

“We have an enormous challenge ahead of us, but over the last eight years the team has been able to get on top of every performance issue that we have faced. We’ve been able to do that because we have so many talented and dedicated people in the team both in Brackley and Brixworth.

“We certainly have our work cut out over the next weeks and months but we are more determined than ever to get ourselves back fighting at the front.”

Lewis Hamilton could only manage tenth in Jeddah – Credit: LAT Images
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