Wolff admits questions about quitting F1 ‘fair’

Mon, 25 March 2024, 09:00

Mar.25 (GMM) As Mercedes’ past successes fade into distant memory, team boss and co-owner Toto Wolff admits questions about his own future in Formula 1 are “fair”.

Having badly faltered with the now-scrapped 2022-2023 car concept, hopes were high for a much better season this year – Lewis Hamilton’s last in silver.

But Hamilton has been off teammate George Russell’s pace all season so far, and his mood only worsened on Sunday with a sudden Mercedes engine failure.

“I think it just seized,” the seven time world champion said.

His bigger concern, however, is the “massive gap” between Mercedes and the top of the field – headed by Red Bull.

“I think they have a second on us, something like that,” said the 39-year-old, who will be a Ferrari driver from 2025 and beyond. “Just the want he (Sergio Perez) pulled away down the straight.

“It’s the worst start to a season – worse than 2009, I think,” Hamilton added, referring to his post-title struggles with McLaren, his former team.

He said he went into 2024 hoping to take on Red Bull, only to be let down again. “Then you think ‘ok, maybe second or third’ and then it cascades even further down and you’re just going through the motions.

“It’s challenging,” Hamilton said.

Some experts think the Briton has now completely given up on Mercedes.

“Hamilton does not have off days, he has off seasons,” remarked former Red Bull driver Robert Doornbos, according to Ziggo Sport.

“He gets beaten in qualifying, his car breaks down in the race, and his motivation is gone.”

But even boss and team co-owner Wolff is not trying to put a rosy hue on the situation. “I would be lying if I said at any moment I felt positive about the situation and optimistic,” the Austrian said in Melbourne.

“You just need to overcome the negative thoughts and say ‘we will turn this around’. But today it feels very, very brutal.”

Wolff admits that part of his role is to “stay positive and creative”, but he says that is becoming harder and harder. “I’d be the first to say ‘if anyone has a better idea, please bring it on’.

“Our problem is not the organisation or the racing philosophy – our problem is the physics. We just have to get to the bottom of the intricacies of these modern wing cars.”

He insists, though, that he isn’t going to pass the baton on to a new boss.

“I look at myself in the mirror every single day about everything I do so it is a fair question,” Wolff said. “But that is not what I feel that I should do at the moment.”

Another issue, he concedes, is that he isn’t just the boss, but the one-third owner of the Brackley based team.

“If you ask the manager question, it’s not like I can go to Chelsea or Liverpool or over to Ferrari,” he joked. “I am not a contractor or an employee who can say ‘I’ve had enough of this’. My hamster wheel keeps spinning and I cannot jump out.”

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