Toto Wolff is using Mercedes’ early season woes to motivate the team to step up and find a solution for their current problems. The reigning Constructors’ champions have not hit the ground running and are currently well off the pace compared to frontrunners Ferrari and Red Bull Racing.
Lewis Hamilton finished on the podium at the season opener in Bahrain, but he was gifted the place after Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were forced to retire with only a few laps remaining. The Mercedes cars were unable to stick with race winner Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s pace, and were often over a second slower during the race.
Wolff is aware of the problems Mercedes area facing and revealed that the fixes are unlikely to arrive immediately. The Silver Arrows’ team principal also indicated that Hamilton is unlikely to challenge for the title despite having 22 races still go until the end of the season.
“If we look at the pecking order today, it seems a very long shot even to think about being in contention for the drivers’ or constructors’ championships,” Wolff said, as quoted by the Daily Mail.
“We probably scored the maximum points we could have on Sunday, and we need to take it from there. Every weekend counts,” he added. “But at the moment we have to be realistic, and when you are third on the road, you cannot think about winning titles.”
Mercedes are expected to get on top of their problems by the time the European season gets underway. Wolff’s suggestion about the team not being title contenders at this early stage is likely to help motivate the team, who are not used to the struggle of being part of the chasing pack.
The teams that struggled in Bahrain will not have much time to turn their fortunes around, as the second race of the season is this weekend in Jeddah. Mercedes are expected to again struggle to compete at the front, with Red Bull expected to again be the favourites along with Ferrari.