Toto Wolff warns Lewis Hamilton about ‘surprise box’

Mercedes had a strong showing at the 2023 Singapore GP, but they were unable to take victory, albeit by a narrow margin.

Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff is urging his team to remain “humble” in their pursuit of a Grand Prix victory in the 2023 Formula 1 season. 

The Mercedes outfit has faced a challenging season, marked by struggles with their W14 car and the overpowering dominance of the Red Bull RB19. 

As the season progresses, Mercedes finds itself in an unusual position, not having secured a race win yet under Wolff’s leadership.

Throughout the season, Mercedes has been unable to contend for a victory, with their best results being Lewis Hamilton’s second-place finishes in Australia and Spain. 

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However, a glimmer of hope emerged during the Singapore Grand Prix when Mercedes had an opportunity to clinch a win. 

The team decided to make a strategic pit stop for fresh Medium tires under the Virtual Safety Car, setting the stage for a charge towards the front. 

Unfortunately, this charge was impeded by the strong defence of second-placed Lando Norris, aided in part by race leader Carlos Sainz providing the McLaren DRS to hinder Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton from overtaking.

The Singapore Grand Prix saw George Russell crashing out on the final lap, allowing Lewis Hamilton to inherit a third-place finish. 

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Despite this, Mercedes is yet to secure its first victory of the 2023 season, casting doubt on their streak of winning at least one race per year under Toto Wolff’s leadership, which has been unbroken since the 2012 season.

In light of this ongoing challenge, Toto Wolff has emphasised the importance of humility within the team. 

He stated, “I’d like to say that every year we have raced, we have had a win at least, but you’ve got to stay humble about it.” 

Acknowledging the dominance of Red Bull throughout the season, Wolff added, “We have had a super strong Red Bull all year; it was Ferrari that was strong in Monza [and Singapore].”

Wolff remains optimistic about Mercedes’ future prospects, highlighting upcoming races as potential opportunities to return to the front of the grid. 

“I hope that we have more opportunities to race at the front. 

“We’ll see in six, seven days again where we are [in Japan], then Brazil can be a good one for us, and we’ll bring some stuff to Austin, so, some fun races ahead, and I certainly look very much forward to them.”

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Reflecting on the challenges posed by the W14 car, Wolff commented, “This car has been a surprise box all along.” 

He also noted the inherent difficulty of setting up ground effect cars like the W14, emphasising that falling out of the performance window could be detrimental. 

“If you fall out of the window, you have no performance, and that has happened to us more than we got it right.”