Toto Wolff confirms Mercedes ‘still hiding a little bit’ of performance in testing
Toto Wolff has confirmed Mercedes are still “hiding” performance in testing in Bahrain, but acknowledged it’s difficult to judge where the team sits in a competitive pecking order as it stands.
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both finished the first day of testing inside the top 10, sixth and ninth respectively on the timesheets as Mercedes racked up 152 laps between them with the W14.
Wolff was pleased to report that the problem of porpoising, the bouncing phenomenon brought about by the new ground effect aerodynamics which hit Mercedes hard in 2022, has “gone” from the new car, and trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin claimed the car ran “faultlessly” in Bahrain on Thursday.
But when it comes to seeing how Mercedes stack up against the rest of the field, particularly Red Bull and Ferrari, they remain unsure about where they are – given the amount of variables in play during testing.
Max Verstappen topped the times and lap count as Red Bull “hit the ground running” with the RB19, but Mercedes team principal Wolff admitted his team are still keeping a little bit up their sleeves at this moment in time.
“They are fast. No surprise there,” Wolff told Sky F1’s Rachel Brookes during Friday morning’s session when asked about Red Bull and Ferrari’s pace.
But on overall speed across the board, he added: “Very difficult to judge at that stage, everybody’s playing around with fuel loads and it’s a little bit [of] hiding on engine modes. So you can’t really judge.
“We’re still hiding a little bit.”
But there are encouraging signs down at Mercedes given the improvements they have had from the off in 2023, not battling the same issues which they faced at the beginning of last season.
Wolff said the team are looking to get back in the fight for the title after losing their long-held Constructors’ crown to Red Bull, but he is still keeping his feet on the ground at the moment.
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“[There is a] feeling of excitement because we got it wrong last year, we finished third and we definitely want to fight for the World Championship. That’s the aim, but you need to stay humble also,” Wolff added.
“Obviously, mentally it’s always difficult to start with a car that was not on par last year, and hopefully see something that’s better and this is what the excitement comes from, but equally we want to get it right.”
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