After a tough start for Mercedes, it seems that the team is catching up with the front once again. With the qualifying session seeing George Russell on P4 and Lewis Hamilton on P6, the Silver Arrows have a good chance for a fight with the championship contenders Ferrari and Red Bull, and can secure a good amount of points.
After the qualifying, one man that was definitely hopeful ahead of the race was the Team Principal of Mercedes F1 Toto Wolff. In an interview with Sky Sport F1 after the session, he shed some light on the performance and the car that the team is currently dealing with.
As he said, reminiscing about the Saturday’s results: “I think we have done a solid step in Barcelona, you’re trying to keep your expectation at a realistic point and I think where we slot in today was somehow the best we could’ve expected.”
Asked if he thinks that Sunday’s race will see a better performance from the car, and if the changes done ahead of the GP could improve it, Wolff said: “My belief is that we have a race car more than a qualifying car, but we’re going to see tomorrow how it went for the other ones. I think for Red Bull, they always have the tendency to be much stronger in the race, less so the Ferraris but obviously it’s “glass ball” reading.”
With his great quali result on Saturday, George Russell continues his fantastic form. So far he finished ahead of Hamilton in almost every race this season (the one being Bahrain). Wolff was asked if he is so far happy with the young Brit, to which he responded: “Yes, very much, because you can see the next generation going up and the way George has integrated in the team, working with Lewis and learning from Lewis is great so I couldn’t wish for a better driver pairing. The pace is there, and that’s what we have hoped.”
Even though the team is currently 3rd in the Championship, it is no secret that they would like to see themselves fighting for the top spot. After all, this is what they got us used to in the past few years, but with the current state of affairs, it might take them still some time to be able to fight in the front of the grid.
Asked if he is happy with the car finally performing, and what he thinks is possible with it, the Team Principal of Mercedes said: “I believe we have done a solid step whilst we know how to unlock more performance, and we’re not yet there. So it’s step by step, the other teams have been able to continue to develop the car whilst we have been a little bit in a pause moment, to find out about the bouncing (porpoising). So as soon as we can pick up the regular development, as soon as we understand the tyres better now the bouncing is gone, I think we will be catching up.”
He added: “he (Lewis) says that the car finally drives like a Formula 1 car, and I think this is the best feedback you can get from a racing driver!”
Lastly, Wolff was asked at what point of the season the team must focus on next year, or if they still believe they can achieve something in the current championship. To that, he responded: “I think it’s a very good and valid question, but the regulations stay the same for next year. At a certain stage you need to cast the simple question: “what is good on that car ?” and what do we think is not good and what we do not understand in order to make that decision for next year, we gotta come to the point that we say “we understand” and I think at the moment we’re still trying.”