Mercedes are hoping to discover their car is more competitive in this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on a circuit they believe will suit the W14 chassis better.
The team suffered its worst start to a season for 10 years in the Bahrain Grand Prix eight days ago. However the Bahrain International Circuit is one of the most punishing circuits on the calendar in terms of tyre wear, and team principal Toto Wolff is hopeful the team will be more competitive in Jeddah this weekend.
Nonetheless he admitted “the last time that I dreamt about miracles was a long time ago so I don’t expect any miracles.”
“[Bahrain] is very rear-limited and a very abrasive asphalt and that is probably our weakest point in the car,” Wolff explained. “And if you look at it from that perspective, maybe it gets better. Certainly when it comes more to front-limited tracks, we will be on a much, much better pace.”
Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in Bahrain, 50 seconds behind race winner Max Verstappen, and two places ahead of team mate George Russell. Wolff said both his drivers appreciate the W14 requires significant change in order to become a contender for race wins.
“Everyone is aware this is not a matter of finding three tenths and polishing the car up,” he said. “This is a matter of serious performance that we need to find in order to put us back in the situation to fight for race wins and championships.”
During the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend Wolff said the team would have to rethink the concept behind its car in order to compete with the likes of Red Bull. The W14 reached the performance levels the team expected, but not only do Mercedes continue to languish behind the world champions and Ferrari, but Aston Martin have overtaken them as well.
“We set ourselves very high targets and we achieved those high targets,” said Wolff. “So I think it is [about] where we set those targets, all of us collectively, and how we need to maybe change the perspective.
“Which is an interesting exercise also, it’s something that I’m looking forward to. I’d rather win every single race and continue to world championship after championship. But this is now the real challenge and for me, an interesting one, as painful as it is.”
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