Toto Wolff felt the performance from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend proves the team are heading in the right direction, even though they could not manage a podium finish.
George Russell finished fourth and Lewis Hamilton fifth at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, with both the Oracle Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team’s ahead of them. However, they were able to beat both Scuderia Ferrari drivers on merit.
Wolff, the Team Principal at Mercedes, reckons they could have shown a little more pace than they did had they not forced both drivers to manage their tyres as much as they did, but on the back of a poor showing in Bahrain, it was a much better weekend for the German team.
“I think we saw some performance gains to Bahrain which is encouraging,” said Wolff. “It shows us that the development trajectory is going in the right direction.
“I think both of our drivers under our guidance probably over-managed their tyres a bit, and we had a little more pace. Bahrain is still in our heads, and we could have maybe pushed more.
“It was a strong driver from George and a great recovery from Lewis to get solid points. Red Bull are still far away in terms of performance and that won’t be easy to catch. Nevertheless, today we’ve seen that our development is heading in the way we want to head.”
“We’re under no illusion that we have a lot of work to do” – Andrew Shovlin
Andrew Shovlin, the Track Engineering Director at Mercedes, was equally happy with the progress made by the team in between the Bahrain and Saudi Arabian weekends, and it proves the team are working in the right direction with its car design.
Getting the car into the right operating window has proven difficult so far during the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season, but there are now positive steps being made to help this going forward.
Shovlin reckons the improved pace seen in Jeddah was encouraging to see, and it gives them some additional motivation to continue developing the W14, which they hope will eventually be able to fight against Red Bull at the front of the field.
“The car is hard work to get into the right window and it’s not as easy for the drivers as it needs to be, but we’ve certainly found a better balance than in Bahrain and it has been a lot kinder on its tyres,” said Shovlin.
“We’re under no illusion that we have a lot of work to do. We’ve been busy at the factory searching for performance and the initial findings are encouraging which gives us the motivation to keep working hard to improve.
“Today, we did exactly what we needed to do, which is to maximise the potential in what we have. We’re looking forward to the next race in Melbourne; it’s closer in characteristics to Saudi than Bahrain, so hopefully we’ll have a car that we can fight for a podium.
“If there is any more performance that we can bring we’ll make sure we get it to the track.”