The first race of the Formula 1 season in Bahrain has left Mercedes director Toto Wolff with a bitter taste in his mouth as his team failed to live up to their pre-season expectations. Despite their big announcements, Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished in fifth and seventh place, more than 50 seconds behind race winner Max Verstappen of Red Bull.
A Disappointing Day in Racing
Reflecting on the race, Wolff told Sky Sports F1: "Well, one of the worst days in racing – really not good at all. We’re just lacking pace front, right and centre. That’s the reflection of the tests.
The Aston Martin is very fast, they deserve that, and Red Bull is just on a different planet." The dominant nature of Red Bull’s one-two result has left Wolff feeling dejected. "I think that is what hurts, because they are so far ahead.
It reminds me of our best years where we would just put a second [per lap] on everybody else," Wolff said. "That is the benchmark, but we need to put one step after the other to just come back, and we can do that – absolutely we can."
A Radical Approach Needed
When asked about Mercedes’ development plan, Wolff admitted that they need to be "much more radical" in their approach to close the gap with Red Bull. "No, I think it needs to be much more radical – much more radical in the steps than just hoping for a three-tenths upgrade," he said.
Hamilton Provides a Ray of Hope
Despite the disappointing outcome, Wolff took some solace in Hamilton's post-race radio message to the Mercedes team. The seven-time world champion said, "I believe in you all" as the squad looks to bounce back.
Wolff praised Hamilton's leadership, saying: "It shows the leadership. There must be a lot of suffering in there, because the car is just so unstable, but he’s fantastic. He’s been a massive performance contributor, not only in the car."
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