Mercedes target race wins after making ‘really big steps’

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff now seems to think race wins are a possibility this season

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff now seems to think race wins are a possibility this season

Toto Wolff believes race wins are now possible this season after witnessing the “really big steps” taken since the depressing nature of Mercedes’ performance in Bahrain.

The clouds of doom and gloom that engulfed Mercedes following that race regarding the concept of its W14 have lifted slightly in the wake of what Wolff can now see unfolding behind the scenes.

Following qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, there was a degree of relief from George Russell’s side of the garage as the Briton will start from third on the grid.

That comes courtesy of a driveshaft failure on Max Verstappen’s Red Bull in Q2, and a 10-place grid penalty for Charles Leclerc as the Ferrari driver had qualified second behind polesitter Sergio Perez.

But for Verstappen’s problem that sees him start 15th, without doubt, Red Bull would have locked out the front row as the RB19s have again proven a class above their rivals at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Wolff is under no illusions as to the gap to the front.

“We’re always looking at the benchmark performance, and that is Verstappen and Perez, and they’re just too far away, so that hasn’t changed,” he said.

“If Max had finished qualifying, the gap would have been even bigger, and we’ve seen that on the long runs, too.

“So my state of mind hasn’t changed a millimetre just because we are P3 in qualifying.

“The difference is the trajectory is set now, so it is not anymore these single sessions or a single race, it’s just we are storming full steam ahead now and changing things.”

Wolff can’t write off anything

As to the delivery date of those changes, that remains to be seen, yet Wolff is buoyed by the rapid state of progress he at least feels will put Mercedes in the mix for victories later this year, even if a title challenge is a forlorn hope.

“We’re making really big steps at the moment with our R&D and with our understanding in the (wind) tunnel – and I mean really big steps,” said Wolff.

“We just needed the confirmation in Bahrain that we got it wrong, and now we have that. That’s why I would never write off anything now.

“Is it realistic with this performance to talk about the world championship? No, it’s not. You’re a fool if you think that way.

“But equally, it’s motor racing and you must never give up.

“If we continue to do the big steps that we’ve already done in the last 10 days, then I think we will come to a stage where we are really able to race for wins.”

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