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Wolff confident Mercedes are heading to front of grid after Canada improvement

<span>George Russell was third for Mercedes at the Canadian Grand Prix.</span><span>Photograph: Brett Farmer/Shutterstock</span>
George Russell was third for Mercedes at the Canadian Grand Prix.Photograph: Brett Farmer/Shutterstock

Toto Wolff believes Mercedes are on the way to returning to the front of the Formula One grid after recording their best performance of the season at the Canadian Grand Prix.

The team have endured a torrid opening to 2024 after the optimism for their new car, developed with an entirely new design philosophy from the opening two years, proved unfounded. It was once more proving unpredictable, with a narrow operating window and a lack of performance in fast corners.

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However a series of upgrades applied since the Miami Grand Prix at the start of May, culminating in a new front wing at the Monaco Grand Prix, came together to great effect in Montreal with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton securing third and fourth for the team, a first podium for Mercedes this year and comfortably their best finish.

Wolff was cautious in his assessment but acknowledged that he believed the team were finally on track to bring their car up to speed as they looked toward the next round in Spain.

“We have brought so many new parts that have contributed milliseconds to more performance. I think the wheel has started to get some real motion now,” the Mercedes team principal said.

“Bit by bit we have added more performance. Another step in Barcelona and hopefully we will see it on the stopwatch. Hopefully the next few races when there is a track you can overtake, it will be exciting.”

Russell claimed pole in Canada, the team’s first since Hungary in 2023 and, although the race was won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, the scale of the sense that a corner had been turned at Mercedes was demonstrated when both Russell and Hamilton stated they believed they should have done better still.

Wolff, however, noted that after their recent travails, third and fourth and at times being the quickest cars on track represented a step forward for the team. “When you finish third and fourth, where we have been coming from then it is a positive race,” he said.

“Three and four is much better than what we had in the last few races. Both drivers saw that more was up for grabs and we could have gained a position or two, so maybe that is why a negative sentiment prevails.”

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is not typical of most tracks with slow corners and the emphasis placed on pace through the chicanes but the next round in Barcelona, a track the teams know well and that tests all aspects of performance, will be the real measure of how far Mercedes has advanced.

Verstappen now leads the world championship by 56 points from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc with 15 rounds remaining but Red Bull’s advantage, which was considerable at the start of the season, has been cut back by the development of their rivals as the Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, acknowledged.

“We expect Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes, who came into that window this weekend, to be competitive at every circuit,” he said. “So we are going to have to be really at the top of our game.”