Mercedes refresh: Wolff now keen for post-Hamilton era

Mercedes, echoing the strategies of teams like Ferrari and McLaren, is set to introduce significant car upgrades at the upcoming Miami Grand Prix. The team, which has seen a sharp decline over the last three seasons, failed to show any signs of resurgence in the recent race in China. This ongoing slump has led to Lewis Hamilton deciding to leave the team post-2024.

Mercedes team boss and co-owner Toto Wolff, visibly disappointed, expressed his concerns about the car’s performance to Sky Deutschland, admitting, “This is a bad car.” He further emphasized the urgency of the upcoming improvements, “We will bring some new things to Miami, which we really need, but now we are behind the Ferraris and also Lando Norris, and that is simply not good enough.”

Reacting to Wolff’s attempts to lure Max Verstappen to Mercedes, Red Bull’s Christian Horner questioned the logic, asking, “Why would anyone want to leave this team?” He humorously added, “Mercedes is the third team with those engines,” referencing Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso outperforming Hamilton.

Despite the setbacks, Wolff remains hopeful about the upcoming updates, stating, “We see the errors in it but we have something for Miami and it looks like a good move. Let’s see where it takes us.” The exit of Hamilton, who will join Ferrari in 2025, signals the end of a significant chapter for Mercedes, with Wolff hinting at a fresh start, “Twelve years with Lewis was incredible, but now there’s a refresh.”

Wolff candidly blamed Hamilton for misdirecting the car’s development setup in China, revealing, “We definitely positioned the car incorrectly,” and criticized Hamilton’s approach, “Lewis set a development direction that was so wrong that the car didn’t make it around the corners.” However, Wolff also downplayed the driver’s role in the car’s engineering, asserting, “The fact is that the role of the driver in the development of a car is overestimated. It’s worse to lose an engineer than a driver.”

Hamilton, in response, expressed his limitations, “I’m not a car designer. I wish I was!” Wolff’s focus is now on securing Verstappen or possibly Carlos Sainz for the future, with Sainz reportedly considering a short-term offer. Wolff remains optimistic about the team’s future driver lineup, “There are some interesting discussions and interesting options, both short and long term. I’m looking forward to starting a new era next year with a new driver.”

GMM

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