Wolff: Miami showed Mercedes potential

George Russell

Mercedes’ pace during the build up to the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix was proof that there is pace in the F1 W13 according to team boss Toto Wolff.

George Russell was second fastest in Free Practice 1 and topped Free Practice 2 on Friday in Florida before a set-up change saw both he and team-mate Lewis Hamilton drop down the order on Saturday.

They recovered some performance for Qualifying and raced their way forward in what was a promising weekend for the squad after its early-season struggles.

It also validated, to Wolff, the work the team is doing and the car’s concept, something which has been increasingly questioned in recent races.

“With the third quickest car underneath us, we extracted the maximum points possible in Miami,” Wolff said.

“Considering George’s start position, it was a great recovery drive, helped by when the Safety Car was deployed.

“But the timing was unfortunate for Lewis who was strong all weekend and on course to score P5 without the neutralisation of the race.

“I’ve no doubt that over the course of the season, a little luck will eventually go his way.

“During Friday practice, the car showed flashes of its true potential.

“We continued experimenting with set-up, fitted some new components and that’s provided us answers and indications of which direction to go in.”

Wolff has previously said that he felt there is pace in the F1 W13, but the car’s set-up window is especially narrow.

That has brought with it a slow start to the season, which has left both Wolff and Hamilton all but writing off the year in terms of a world championship bid.

However, Wolff insists that his team cannot simply turn its back on the current car and look towards 2023 as, without understanding the issues it’s currently experiencing and how to resolve them, it could repeat them with next year’s car.

“A huge amount of hard work has been going on in the factories to unpick the data from Miami and turn it into improvements for Barcelona,” the Austrian said.

“Having run there in winter testing, albeit with a car that has evolved a lot since then, it will be a good place to correlate the information we have on the current car and we’re hopeful that we’ll make another step forward.

“The track itself is a good all-rounder, so it really puts every aspect of the car to the test.

“It’s never been a great track for overtaking so it’ll be interesting to see how these new-shape 2022 F1 cars impact the on-track spectacle in Spain.”

This weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix gets underway with Free Practice 1 at 22:00 AEST on Friday.

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