Toto Wolff says he knew Mercedes was in trouble after Bahrain testing

© Jiri Krenek for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Toto Wolff says he realised during 2023 pre-season testing that the W14 wasn’t working as expected, and “it was clear that this is not going to go our way”.

After enduring a difficult 2022 season, Mercedes decided to soldier on with their car concept in 2023, encouraged by their 2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix win.

However, after the first race of the 2023 season, the team immediately decided to start fundamentally changing their car.

Ahead of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, team boss Toto Wolff was asked to pinpoint when he realised the team was in trouble.

“Bahrain testing,” the Austrian said.

“No, I think from a Mercedes standpoint, we had a really good end of the season in 2022 and we believed that we can fix this, stick to the concept of the car and get better out of the blocks in ‘23.

“And already in testing, we could see that that didn’t happen. The drivers basically described the same pattern of behaviour of the car.

“It was unpredictable, no rear end and it was clear that this is not going to go our way.”

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Now, Mercedes is engaged in a close fight for P2 in the 2023 Constructors’ Championship with Ferrari.

“Well, second is not a given,” Toto said when asked to comment on the battle.

“Ferrari is just 20 points or so behind us and, like Zak said, this is a street circuit, many things can happen and I think it’s between the two of us, you see who can score more points here and in Abu Dhabi.

“But in any case, if we look back in ten years, and we look at the score and say we finished second in the World Championship after winning eight years and then a third, you would say that is respectable.

“But if there is one guy that wins all of the other races, you can’t say that any more. We just need to do a better job to be competitive.

“The season was a rollercoaster, up and down. Some very promising races, like in Austin and Mexico, which we could have won – but could have is not enough. And then Brazil.

“So, I hope we can end it on a more positive note. Here the unknown and then Abu Dhabi,” Wolff concluded.

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