Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team Principal Toto Wolff believed the team made the most of qualifying at the Spanish Grand Prix, with George Russell in fourth and Lewis Hamilton in sixth.
“P4 and P6 are probably the best positions we could have expected to slot into today, given the challenges we have faced in the first five race weekends, and the progress we are now starting to make with the car.”
Wolff said that, unlike their competitors, the team had shifted their focus to solving the bouncing issue before pursuing further development. Now that they have a handle on the porpoising, Wolff is confident that the team can move forward and shrink their gap to the front.
“Overall, I think we have made a solid step forward this weekend, and we know how to unlock more performance, too. Our rivals have continued development while we have paused to solve the bouncing – so when we pick that up and start to better understand the tyres now the bouncing is gone, then I think we will be closing them down.”
Wolff said that W13 is better suited to the race rather than qualifying, which may play a role in their ability to defend their position or even move up the order.
“I believe we have a race car more than a qualifying car, so we will see how that goes tomorrow; the trend has generally been for Red Bull to be stronger in the race, Ferrari less so, but who knows what will happen tomorrow.”
Mercedes Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin also believes that there is a greater result to be found on race day, as the team’s long runs have shown even more promise than that of their single laps during practice.
“It’s a very different package that we have brought here and we’re still learning how to get the most out of it. We’re looking forward to tomorrow, our long run looked a more competitive than single lap yesterday so hopefully we can put some pressure on the cars ahead of us and the high degradation should give some interesting options on strategy.”
Although the team’s qualifying result has signaled an improvement in performance, Shovlin said that there are a few key areas that hindered them from challenging the front-runners.
“It’s frustrating not to be closer to the front; we’ve clearly made progress with the car, but we were getting a bit of overheating in the final sector and once it starts, the sliding generates more temperature, and the problem compounds itself. That explains a good proportion of the gap but no doubt we’ve also got a bit to come on the setup.”
Ultimately, Shovlin is happy with the ground the team has gained when it comes to pace and predictability, and looks to keep building upon this result.
“Considering the gaps that we were looking at in the last few races, we never expected to close up in a single step so while we can’t be satisfied with fourth and sixth, it is at least encouraging that we have a car that is behaving in a more predictable way and that we are making steps in the right direction.”