Wolff tempers Mercedes Spanish GP expectations
By Mat Coch
Wednesday 31st May, 2023 - 6:00pm
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff expects his team will be beaten by Red Bull, Aston Martin, and Ferrari at this weekend’s Spanish GP.
Mercedes introduced a significant upgrade package in Monaco that heralded a change in development direction for the team.
Gone is the ‘zeropod’ design, replaced with a solution that more closely resembles the concept employed by Aston Martin and Red Bull.
It was initially intended to arrive for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, though that event was cancelled, with the squad opting to fit it for Monaco.
That was despite the tight confines of the calendar’s shortest circuit masking any performance gains or differences.
“We were in the mix with Aston Martin and with Ferrari,” Wolff noted of Mercedes’ Monaco performance.
“On a positive note, maybe encouraging because we’ve never been really good here, we’ve been three-tenths behind pole, last year was six-tenths.
“The car was ‘awful’ last year and this time around the drivers said it’s [merely] ‘not good’, so there’s a step in description.
“But we really need to be careful, we’ve got to go to Barcelona, collect more data. It’s a new baseline.”
A more accurate picture will arrive at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this weekend, a venue all teams are familiar with given the countless testing miles they’ve completed there over the years.
It’s a layout that includes more medium and high-speed corners, and as a permanent circuit is smoother than the streets of Monte Carlo.
Even still, Wolff is not expecting a significant change from the upgrades.
“I don’t expect us clearing Aston Martin and Ferrari there either,” he confessed.
“It’s more about understanding ‘Okay, what does this car do now, and how do we need to set it up?’
“We’re really good at grinding away once we decide for development direction, then we grind away.
“Even with the old package, that wasn’t great, it was terrible at the beginning of the season, we managed to win a race in Interlagos in a very dominant way.
“[Monaco] is mainly ride and low-speed downforce,” he added.
“You don’t see that in many other tracks.
“We are coming to more mid and high-speed corners, a proper racetrack, so should be good.”