RACE DEBRIEF

    Toto Wolff has admitted that his Mercedes team’s recent form – headlined by a one-two result at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix – provides a “good indication” for their future prospects, but feels the team still have steps to make before they are genuine front-runners again.

    Mercedes entered the 2022 season off the back of eight successive constructors’ world titles, only to fall behind Red Bull and Ferrari in the pecking order amid overhauled technical regulations – with a long season of experiments and car development following.

    After steady progress, which led to consistent podium finishes, a fresh batch of updates were added to the W13 at the recent United States GP, yielding another step in performance and the aforementioned one-two led by first-time winner George Russell.

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    Asked to assess where Mercedes are in terms of development, and whether he is confident they will avoid the same issues with their 2023 car, Wolff said: “I think none of us would ever say we completely understood everything until the last detail, because it is still work in progress.

    “But we had a good upgrade that we brought to Austin, we were solid in Mexico, and now in Brazil, which wasn’t a track we expected to be super competitive with, we actually outperformed everyone [in the Grand Prix], and we did [in the Sprint].

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    After a difficult start to the 2022 season, Mercedes made their breakthrough in style with a 1-2 in Brazil

    “It shows that we are getting there and understanding how to unlock the performance in the car, and obviously that is a good indication for next year.”

    Despite this optimism, and the performance advantage Mercedes enjoyed – but are yet to fully understand – at Interlagos, Wolff says there is a long way to go before the squad can think about their previous days of “utter domination”.

    He also feels that Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit, the venue for this weekend’s season finale, will expose some of the W13’s remaining weaknesses – hampering Mercedes’ efforts to overturn a 19-point deficit to Ferrari in the battle for P2 in the constructors’ standings.

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    Addressing why Mercedes had the quickest package last time out, Wolff commented: “I think it is because the sum of the parts of the development that’s been brought on to the car, the good work that was done by the team and all of us together, but we have seen the trends, the positive trend over the last three races.

    “Are we back in utter domination? No, we are not. I think Abu Dhabi, on paper, is much more difficult for us, because we are still too draggy, but we know why – we know why we are better. Do we know why we were so far ahead of everyone [in Brazil]? We don’t.”