Mercedes said on numerous occasions that Red Bull currently has the faster car. Toto Wolff now says his team finds the new circumstances “very enjoyable” and embraces the opportunity to be “in the hunt”.
“In a way there is a feeling within the team that we very much enjoy the new circumstances,” the Austrian told Autosport.
“And it’s that, on paper, Red Bull is ahead with maybe all of their package. It’s theirs to lose, ours to win, because when you have the quickest car, you have got to deliver on that.
“We have to catch up. We have to deploy our A-game and find more performance. But strictly speaking, we are second best on the road.”
Furthermore, Wolff says he now feels the same way he did back in 2013, when he joined the team. At the time Mercedes was still a midfield outfit and Red Bull was the dominant force in Formula 1.
“The fun factor of us being in the hunt is very enjoyable, because it is a new situation, and we embrace this opportunity. That hasn’t been the case since 2013. And I loved 2013.
“I’ve said it in the team that I feel like the same pump as when I first joined. And it was Red Bull domination then: they were just going to win the fourth championship.”
Mercedes’ team boss also took the opportunity to clarify a comment he gave to the Osterreich newspaper that got ‘misquoted’ by the media. In the interview Wolff was asked to respond to McLaren boss Zak Brown’s comment that he expects Mercedes’ 2022 lineup to consist of George Russell and Max Verstappen.
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When Wolff’s answer was translated into English, it appeared that he was taking a shot at Brown and Red Bull boss Christian Horner.
“Brown is like Christian Horner. They just spread sh*t. I don’t care,” the Austrian was quoted as saying.
The very next day Mercedes issued a statement saying Wolff was misquoted, and now he further explains what he meant.
“I have respect for both of them. That was totally misquoted, and I think it got literally lost in translation.
“I said, ‘they give each other shit a lot’, and the way it was quoted is ‘they talk shit’, which is not quite the same.
“Zak is a big part of the Mercedes family and a friend. With all the banter that we have between us, it’s not something that I would accuse him of.”
The Austrian goes on to say that banter between team bosses is meant to provide entertainment value for Formula 1 fans..
“It’s very important because, what it comes down to, is rivalry. We are operating in the same circus, and it needs to provide entertainment for our fans and audiences.
“But there is also rivalry. Sometimes that can escalate into animosity, and that’s part of the sport.
“But we mustn’t forget: it’s just a sport,” concluded Wolff.