Toto Wolff admits massive cooling worry at Mercedes

George Russell's qualifying performance, placing third, was a highlight, but the race day presented significant challenges.

Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ team principal, provided a candid analysis of the team’s performance at the Bahrain Grand Prix, marking the beginning of the season.

Despite high hopes fueled by positive feedback from Lewis Hamilton and George Russell about the W15 during pre-season testing, and a promising start in Thursday’s practice, the team struggled during the actual race.

George Russell’s qualifying performance, placing third, was a highlight, but the race day presented significant challenges.

Both Mercedes drivers faced issues with overheating power units, causing them to fall behind in the race standings.

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Russell finished fifth, trailing race winner Max Verstappen by 45 seconds, with Hamilton, dealing with a broken seat, finishing seventh.

Wolff, reflecting on the race, admitted to Sky Sports F1, “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.”

The problems were attributed to cooling issues, forcing drivers to adjust their driving to manage the power unit temperatures, leading to a loss of performance.

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Wolff acknowledged the mistake of misjudging the cooling level, which had a cascading effect on their race performance.

Despite these setbacks, Wolff emphasized the importance of learning from the data collected and improving for the upcoming Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Wolff’s observations highlighted inconsistencies in the car’s performance, particularly on harder tires, and acknowledged several mistakes made by the team.

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He remained optimistic about understanding and rectifying these issues, stating, “We’ve seen the glimpses of performance but couldn’t materialise any of that today, so I’m really keen to look at the data and see what we can do in Saudi.”

In his conclusion, Wolff lamented the lack of competitiveness of the cars provided to the drivers for the race, indicating a need for further analysis to understand the difficulties encountered during the race.

Following the Bahrain Grand Prix, Mercedes is third in the constructors’ standings, trailing behind Ferrari and Red Bull, with 24 races remaining in the 2024 season.