Toto Wolff happy with ‘good news’ for Mercedes

Mercedes’ quickest lap time in Day One of testing in Bahrain was over half a second slower than Red Bull’s.

Lap times during pre-season testing do not tell the full story, as teams run different plans, tests and tyre compounds, making some cars appear faster or slower than they really are.

Max Verstappen topped the timing screens on Thursday with a 1:32:837, while Lewis Hamilton only managed to go 0.671s slower than the Dutchman and George Russell 1.337s behind the reigning champion.

These relatively slow lap times, which were also bettered by both Ferraris, have led fans to accuse the team of sandbagging, deliberately hiding the true potential of the W14 to keep their rivals in the dark heading into the first race of the season.

With Hamilton on the verge of signing a new multi-year contract with Mercedes, the Brit will be hoping that the W14 is capable of winning him a record breaking eighth world championship title this season.

READ: REVEALED: Who was the highest-paid F1 driver in 2022?

Despite their slow start to testing, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has claimed that Hamilton will have a car capable of winning the championship this year.

“You need to provide a good car for a driver that has the ambition to win races and championships and we have that,” said the Austrian.

“We want to win. At this stage last year, we knew we were in trouble because the car was bouncing around and we were not able to drive it correctly.

READ: 2023 Australian Grand Prix organiser makes big claim

Article continues below

“But today, it is very different. The car seems to be balanced in the right way. There is no bouncing which is good news. It is a good starting point. We have had a productive morning.”

Wolff’s claims that the W14 was not bouncing during Thursday’s session will come as music to the ears of Mercedes fans, who were forced to watch their team be plagued by a major porpoising issue this year.

Solving this bouncing issue cost the Silver Arrows half a season worth of car development last season so if the team can ensure the W14 does not have a porpoising issue in pre-season, they will be confident of becoming a competitive team once again this year.