Why Wolff is ditching his break to attend Japan GP

In a surprising move, Toto Wolff has reversed his decision to miss the upcoming Japanese GP, deciding to be present amidst the challenges facing Mercedes. With the expansion of the Formula 1 schedule, Wolff had begun to opt out of several long-distance races, including those in Suzuka and Qatar, in recent years. However, the ongoing struggles to equip George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, who is set to join Ferrari, with a competitive car for the third year running, have prompted Wolff to reconsider his weekend plans.

Wolff has now conceded that his direct method of addressing the team’s issues, often perceived as negative, is due for an overhaul. “An Austrian says ‘That’s pretty sh*t’,” Wolff is quoted as saying, with a follow-up that contrasts the sentiment from a British perspective, “A Brit would say ‘That’s challenging’.” He elaborated, “So I have to adapt my way of communicating so as not to put more pressure on the team. The fact that we are not competitive has nothing to do with a lack of effort.”

Despite the setbacks, including Russell’s significant crash in Melbourne’s final moments and Hamilton’s engine failure in the same race, Wolff praises their resilience. “Lewis is as good as you can be,” he commended, highlighting Hamilton’s frustration and simultaneous admiration for Ferrari’s success. “But that is not his main priority today, and George is just a fighter and is digging in. He knows this is his place and we’ve got to sort this out.”

The narrative at Mercedes, especially regarding Russell’s notable performance, has attracted comments from Mario Andretti, the 1978 world champion. He observed that Hamilton’s career has been mostly in winning cars, which minimized errors. “In his career,” Andretti noted, “Lewis often had cars in which he could win. He didn’t have to get the most out of it, so he made few mistakes.” He contrasted this with Russell’s time at Williams, where competitiveness was a constant struggle. “George had to constantly fight at Williams because the car was not competitive,” Andretti remarked, pointing out that Russell’s adaptability is now evident at Mercedes. Regarding Hamilton’s move to Ferrari, Andretti expressed, “It will be interesting to see what Lewis will do at Ferrari,” underscoring Hamilton’s ambition to conclude his career with the Italian team.

GMM

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