Wolff: F1 title race isn’t over despite end to Mercedes development

Toto Wolff believes the Formula 1 title race is “far from over” despite Mercedes’ decision to stop developing its 2021 car as it sticks to its resource plan for 2022.

Wolff said on Saturday that Mercedes would “continue to stick to our principle of putting our resource into 2022” with regards to its development plans despite the fierce championship fight with Red Bull.

Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix saw Max Verstappen score a dominant win for Red Bull, leading every single lap as the team recorded its fourth consecutive victory.

Lewis Hamilton was heard on team radio asking Mercedes what it could do to reduce the gap to Verstappen, and said after the race that it was “impossible” to keep up, having dropped 17 seconds behind before his late pit stop to go for the fastest lap.

Hamilton also said that Mercedes had to “find some performance” and “need an upgrade of some sort” to take the fight to Red Bull.

But speaking on Sky Sports F1 after the race, Wolff said it had been “the first race really in eight years where you’re just lacking the pace, where you see that we have stopped developing for this year, because we believe the next years are so important to get it right”.

In a later media call, Wolff acknowledged that it was a “very, very tricky decision” not to continue development with the Mercedes W12, but felt it was important to weigh up the benefits for the new regulation cycle starting in 2022.

“We are having new regulations not only for next year but for years to come, a completely different car concept, and you’ve got to choose the right balance,” Wolff said.

“Pretty much everybody is going to be on next year’s car. Some may still bring stuff. Red Bull has brought trucks on Thursday and Friday with new parts.

“And fair enough, it’s a strategy, and one that proves to be successful as it stands, because today, they were simply in a league of their own from car-pace wise.”

Read Also:

Red Bull’s recent streak has seen the team open up a 40-point lead at the top of the constructors’ championship, putting it at the top of both standings for the first time since 2013.

But Wolff stressed the title race was far from over, saying that Red Bull’s development would end at some stage and that there were plenty more areas to optimise.

“The championship is not only played with adding aerodynamic parts, because at this certain stage, even the ones like Red Bull who still keep adding parts, need to switch all of the development into next year,” Wolff said. “That means all the exploitation of the car around the set-up, the set-up work, the tyres, and the optimisation of how we are running, will become a very, very important part.

“It would make no sense to put a week or two [or] a month back on the current car, because the gains wouldn’t be anywhere near of the gains we are making on the 2022 car.

“But having said that, this is far from over. We had a very difficult weekend here in Austria, with no weapons in our armoury to win this race fair and straight. But we will be winning races this season, and we will be having pole positions, and we will be fighting as much as we can for every single result.”

Asked if Hamilton had bought into the plan given his post-race comment about needing an upgrade, Wolff replied: “The driver will always fight with everything he has.

“We’ve had the chat before, and as a matter of fact, it’s a very rational decision. The upgrades you bring wouldn’t close the deficit, aerodynamic deficit, of the magnitude that these new aero regulations cost us. Fact.

“As I said before, they will stop aero development at a certain stage because it would be dangerous for next year’s championship, to lose out in next year’s championship.

“So the fight is still full on. That wasn’t our best circuit in the past, and wasn’t today. [It] doesn’t mean that we have no weapons in our armoury left.”

shares
comments
Bottas: Mercedes pitted early to capitalise on slow Perez stop
Previous article

Bottas: Mercedes pitted early to capitalise on slow Perez stop

Next article

Leclerc's Styrian GP charge "one of my best performances" in F1

Leclerc's Styrian GP charge "one of my best performances" in F1
Load comments
Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer Prime

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer

Earning praise from rivals has been a welcome sign that Lando Norris is becoming established among Formula 1's elite. But the McLaren driver is confident that his team's upward curve can put him in the mix to contend for titles in the future, when he's hoping the compliments will be replaced by being deemed an equal adversary

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention Prime

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention

After a disastrous 2020 in which it slumped to sixth in the F1 constructors' standings, Ferrari has rebounded strongly and is on course to finish third - despite regulations that forced it to carryover much of its forgettable SF1000 machine. Yet while it can be pleased with its improvement, there are still steps it must make if 2022 is to yield a return to winning ways

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Prime

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Motorsport.com's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer Tim Wright explains.

Formula 1
Dec 1, 2021
How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021