Wolff says Mercedes need to work on cooling problems after Austria struggles
Painful. That’s how Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff described his viewing of the Austrian Grand Prix as he was forced to watch his silver cars cruise around – rather than fight – because of cooling issues. Wolff says there is “no other option” other than to find a solution – and fast…
Mercedes arrived in Austria unbeaten, with eight wins on the trot this year. They knew Austria was going to be challenging, with the warm conditions and altitude – and that turned out to be the case as they could not compete with Red Bull or Ferrari with Valtteri Bottas finishing third behind Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, with championship leader Lewis Hamilton – who suffered front wing damage – fifth.
“We knew that it was our Achilles heel and we were carrying the (cooling) problems since the beginning of the season,” said Wolff. “We tried to work on mitigating the performance loss, but at the end it was really painful to watch us cruising, not being able to defend or attack.
“We were running the engine way turned down, lifting and coasting for up to 400 metres — it’s almost having no throttle rolling downwards — and still able to pull in some decent lap times. But we were limited by the cooling problems.”
But then there is no question — there is no alternative other than to fix our problems for the coming hot European races, Hockenheim and Budapest
Mercedes made tweaks in a bid to ease the problems. They could have done more, admits Wolff, but it would have been pretty extreme...
“The next step would have been to remove all the bodywork,” he said. “So that was not really an option because the sponsors wouldn’t have liked it! Right on the limit. We couldn’t do anything anymore, and it was already very damaging for performance what we did. There was no step left anymore.”
The upcoming British Grand Prix should offer some respite, courtesy of Silverstone being a different type of circuit and the weather conditions likely to be cooler than the sweltering heat the paddock encountered in Austria.
“First of all I’m really hoping for the typical English weather in Silverstone so we can gain a little bit of time to sort our problems out,” added Wolff. “But then there is no question — there is no alternative other than to fix our problems for the coming hot European races, Hockenheim (one of the squad’s home races) and Budapest. There is just no other option.”
Despite their most disappointing result of the season, Mercedes still retain a healthy 135-point lead over Ferrari in the constructors’ championship, while the nearest non-Mercedes driver is 71 adrift of championship leader Lewis Hamilton.