Toto Wolff: Max Verstappen was in a different galaxy, we need to change something

Mercedes aims to significantly improve in Saudi Arabia, seeing it as a great opportunity to show their potential

by Sead Dedovic
Toto Wolff: Max Verstappen was in a different galaxy, we need to change something
© Bryn Lennon / Getty Images Sport

Mercedes failed to achieve its goal, as the Bahrain Grand Prix proved to be unsuccessful for them. The fact that Hamilton finished the race in seventh place, while George Russell secured fifth, doesn't bring joy to the team leaders. They anticipated much more from their drivers and the new W15 car. 

Toto Wolff, the head of Mercedes, in an interview with Sky Sports, shared his thoughts on the Bahrain Grand Prix and revealed his impressions. Wolff emphasized that Mercedes cannot allow Max Verstappen such a huge advantage. The Dutch driver once again was unstopabble. Mercedes faced many issues in the first race, indicating areas they need to address in the coming period.

“Yeah, [we were] far off… I mean, Max was in a different galaxy. We need to look at ourselves, why we lost so much performance on the harder tyre.

We got the cooling level wrong and therefore you need to lift and coast, you lose performance on the tyre and it was a bit of a vicious circle.

As the race unfolded we had to lift and coast more to manage the temperatures on the power unit. We closed it up too much, that was the main issue. Then we didn’t have the pace, weirdly.”- Wolff said, as quoted by

Toto Wolff, the head of the Mercedes team, talked about the team's performance in the Bahrain Grand Prix. He mentioned that the car showed some speed, but there were issues, especially with the hard tires. Wolff admitted that they made mistakes, considering it's a new car, the W15. Despite some positive signs, they couldn't turn them into good results in Bahrain. Wolff is now looking forward to analyzing the data to figure out what went wrong and how they can improve for the next race in Saudi Arabia.

Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff
Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff© Tom Dulat / Getty Images Sport

Mercedes aims to significantly improve in Saudi Arabia, seeing it as a great opportunity to show their potential and demonstrate their team's quality to the world. Both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell face challenges, and the team's leaders must provide conditions for them to perform at their best. After the race, both drivers revealed numerous issues that need addressing. Despite the problems, Lewis Hamilton didn't want to emphasize pessimism too much.

Toto Wolff avoided criticizing his drivers, recognizing that the Mercedes car lacked the potential to make a bigger impact in this race. The head of Mercedes is hopeful for a different outcome in the future. The 52-year-old Austrian is well aware of the F1 scene and understands that Mercedes' current approach may not lead to the desired breakthrough. Although their dominance persisted for years, Red Bull has evidently found a way to counter them. Now, it's on Mercedes to figure out the right strategy to stop Red Bull.

“We gave both [drivers] a car that was today not competitive enough for the race. I think we know a few things why but obviously the two of them struggled during the race, you can see that.”- Toto Wolff continued.

Engine overheating and battery problems

One of the reasons why the Mercedes team failed to achieve the desired result is engine overheating and battery problems. Both of their drivers lagged notably behind Max Verstappen, who secured the victory. Wolff emphasized that such a deficit is not a positive development for his team. In the coming days, Mercedes engineers and executives will have the opportunity to carefully assess what needs to be done for the next race. Changes are necessary if they want to remain competitive.

"From then on, if you switch 0.3-4s of power unit performance off, then you have to lift-and-coast on top, so I think at times probably altogether it was 5 or 6 tenths of a second that we couldn't take from what the car had in it.

Therefore, it just wasn't great fun… At times, we were literally not a few degrees, but like 10 degrees running over what we thought we should be."

It will be interesting to follow the situation in the upcoming races and see if it will resemble the one in Bahrain. Judging by the predictions of many and the first race of the season, Red Bull is still considered the main favorite to win the championship. This outstanding Austrian team intends to replicate its success. They furiously started the season, with Max Verstappen leading and Sergio Perez finishing the race in second place. 

Christian Horner, the team principal, is cautious about creating euphoria, considering it's still too early to talk about Red Bull as the champion. However, some believe Verstappen's strong performance confirms that we might witness a similar scenario as last season. We'll have to wait and see how much truth is in that.

Toto Wolff Max Verstappen Mercedes