Toto Wolff is full of adulation for the spectacle Formula 1 is putting on at present, but concedes that he is thoroughly disappointed that his Mercedes team are not in the leading battle.
As new technical regulations have been introduced, Mercedes have fallen an extensive margin behind Ferrari and Red Bull, who seem to have capitalised on the new era.
The eight-time constructors’ champions claimed a podium finish in Bahrain after a double late retirement for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, but the recipient of that fortune, Sir Lewis Hamilton, endured a torrid weekend in Saudi Arabia, finishing 10th after qualifying 16th.
The Briton won eight races last season as Mercedes sealed their record eighth straight teams’ success, and Wolff admits that it is “extremely painful” for the Silver Arrows to be running third quickest at best behind the invigorating battle between Ferrari and Red Bull, in which Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen have already treated us to some memorable battles.
“We were right in the middle of those fun games in the front and talking as an F1 stakeholder and benefiting from a great show, that is really spectacular to look at,” Wolff said.
“But on the other side, it is extremely painful to be not part of those fun games, and by quite a chunk of lap time deficit.”
The Austrian is resolute in that his team are going to work relentlessly to climb back up to the top and described Mercedes’ situation as “not funny right now.”
“We’re not going to rest until we are back in the mix. But you’re absolutely right: 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 funny right now,” he asserted.
George Russell has previously suggested that, if his team can get to the bottom of the “porpoising” problems caused by the new ground effect aerodynamics, they can solve “99 percent” of their 2022 car’s problems.