Toto Wolff: From ‘awful’ to ‘not good’

Mercedes brought a string of upgrades to Monaco, delivering some impressive moments of pace during practice and qualifying.

Mercedes introduced a huge slate of upgrades to the underperforming W14 in Monaco, as the Silver Arrows sought to deliver a much anticipated comeback after a disappointing experience in the new era of regulations.

The upgrade package had been set to be unveiled at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix but its cancellation saw Mercedes push the roll out back to Monaco despite the iconic circuit’s unique layout not proving to be the best testing ground.

Mercedes had remained cautious ahead of the introduction of the new parts but was still keen to see if they could deliver a rapid improvement to the team’s string of poor runs.

During practice and qualifying, both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell appeared to show moments of improvement, as their pace put them in a position to challenge near the front at one point.

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However, Mercedes had to ultimately settle for P5 and P8 on the starting grid after they failed to challenge Red Bull’s dominance or crack Fernando Alonso’s success at Aston Martin.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes the performance over the weekend showed the Silver Arrows had made “encouraging” steps with their new design. 

“It’s so difficult, because we were in the mix with Aston Martin and with Ferrari, I would say,” Wolff told reporters in Monaco.

“On a positive note, maybe encouraging because we have never been really good here. We have been three tenths behind pole [this year], last year it was six tenths.

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“The car was ‘awful’ last year and this time around the drivers said it’s ‘not good’. So, there’s a step up in description.

“But we really need to be careful. We’ve got to go to Barcelona and collect more data. It’s a new baseline. I don’t expect us clearing Aston Martin and Ferrari there either.

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“It is more about understanding what does this car do now and how do we need to set it up? We’re really good at grinding away once we have decided the development direction and we grind away.

“Even with the old package that wasn’t great – it was terrible at the beginning of the season and we managed to win a race in Interlagos in a very dominant way. So, we’re going to get there.”

Mercedes are now just 1 point behind Aston Martin in the Constructors’ Standings, putting the Silver Arrows on course for a better performance in 2023 than last season.