Mercedes: Toto Wolff says start Formula 1 2022 season an ‘exercise in humility’ and vows to respond

Mercedes principal Toto Wolff admits it is ‘not fun’ being far off the early leaders at the start of the new Formula 1 season; the season continues with the Australian Grand Prix on April 10, live on Sky Sports F1

Last Updated: 29/03/22 7:12 pm


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Former F1 driver Anthony Davidson shares his thoughts on Lewis Hamilton’s performance so far this season, hailing that ‘if anyone can bounce back, it’s Lewis’.

Former F1 driver Anthony Davidson shares his thoughts on Lewis Hamilton’s performance so far this season, hailing that ‘if anyone can bounce back, it’s Lewis’.

Toto Wolff has described the start to the new Formula 1 season as an “exercise in humility” for Mercedes and vows the team will not rest until they are back in the mix.

The second race weekend of the season in Saudi Arabia was another sobering one for Wolff and the whole Mercedes team.

It featured Lewis Hamilton not progressing out of Q1 for the first time since 2017 and calling his car ‘undriveable’ after set-up changes.

Hamilton went on to finish tenth in Sunday’s race, while team-mate George Russell secured fifth. The two Ferraris and Red Bulls occupied the top four positions.

“We were right in the middle of those fun games at the front for eight years,” Wolff, Mercedes’ team principal, said.

Watch highlights of the second race of the 2022 season from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia

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Watch highlights of the second race of the 2022 season from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia

Watch highlights of the second race of the 2022 season from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia

“It’s extremely painful to not be part of those games by quite a chunk of lap-time deficit. It’s no fun at all.

“It’s an exercise in humility and it’s going to make us stronger in the end, even though it’s not fun right now.”

After a missile attack on an oil depot near Jeddah’s high-speed seaside Corniche circuit on Friday, there were more than four hours of talks between drivers, team bosses, F1 personnel and Saudi authorities. Not all drivers were thought initially to be committed to racing, but there was an agreement that the event would go ahead.

“There wasn’t any arm-twisting from our side, there were good discussions,” Wolff said. “When the team principals talked to the drivers what we talked about was sense, and not at all any pressure, but maybe that was perceived in a different way.

“In the end, the show and the spectacle [on track] was amazing and what we delivered as a sport was great. This is what sport should do.

Karun Chandhok believes talks over driver safety must happen soon, after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix went ahead despite an oil depot attack near the Jeddah Corniche Circuit

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Karun Chandhok believes talks over driver safety must happen soon, after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix went ahead despite an oil depot attack near the Jeddah Corniche Circuit

Karun Chandhok believes talks over driver safety must happen soon, after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix went ahead despite an oil depot attack near the Jeddah Corniche Circuit

“I’ve been here for five years and I’ve seen changes, but there’s just so much more to do, a lot.”

The drivers are now set to meet with race bosses following the concerns that arose from the weekend’s race.

Moving into the 2022 F1 season, the new rules and regulations were designed to promote more competitive racing and Wolff believes the objectives have been met.

“They have achieved what they wanted to achieve,” he said.

“Spectacular racing, good overtaking, the grid has been shaken up – which is less fun for us – but it happens.

“The midfield is extremely close so overall, from the entertainment factor, I’m happy about the hype around Formula 1. I think then they achieved the target. You can only applaud for how that all came in.”

Wolf says he cannot commit to a timeframe for Mercedes to get their drivers up with early pace-setters Ferrari and Red Bull.

“We are not running the car where we are wanting to run it, so it’s very difficult to really assess what the lap time deficit is if we were able to run the car lower,” he said.

“I would very much hope that the gap is much closer to what we’ve seen, but there are deficits everywhere.”

‘We’re so far off Ferrari and Red Bull’

Lewis Hamilton said Mercedes is a 'long way away' after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton said Mercedes is a ‘long way away’ after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

After his below-par weekend, Hamilton also highlighted that Mercedes’ new W13 remains far behind where it needs to be.

“Not much has changed since the last race, it’s only been a few days,” Hamilton said.

“What I know is that today I couldn’t keep up with the Haas at the end, the power they have … they came sling-shotting past me when I overtook Magnussen earlier on in the race. We’ve got a lot of work to do but I know I’ve got a great team, we’ll keep our heads down and try and improve. “

Hamilton then added: “The learnings are that we’re quite a bit off pace-wise and we’ve got a lot of work to do. Right now we’re not fighting for the top step, we’re so far off the guys at the front.

“It feels like [we’re] a long way away. “

The season continues with the Australian Grand Prix on April 10, live on Sky Sports F1.

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