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Wolff says Mercedes need to ‘look at ourselves’ as he reveals root cause of Bahrain GP struggles

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 29: Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff attends the Team

Toto Wolff has given an honest assessment of Mercedes’ performance at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix after the team failed to live with the pace of rivals Red Bull and Ferrari amid race-long cooling problems.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell had plenty of positive words to say about the new W15 after pre-season testing and momentum appeared to be building when they placed first and second during Thursday practice at Sakhir.

READ MORE: Russell insists there’s ‘potential’ in the Mercedes car after being hindered by ‘big red alarms’ in Bahrain

But after Russell managed to post the third fastest time in qualifying, the Silver Arrows’ weekend took a turn for the worse as both drivers encountered overheating power units on race day and slipped down the order.

Russell ultimately crossed the line in fifth, 45 seconds off race winner Max Verstappen, with Hamilton a few seconds further back in P7 as the seven-time world champion also had to manage a broken seat.

2024 Bahrain Grand Prix: Hamilton struggling with broken seat on his Mercedes

Reflecting on the race in an interview with Sky Sports F1, Wolff said: “Yeah, [we were] far off… I mean, Max was in a different galaxy. We need to look at ourselves, why we lost so much performance on the harder tyre.

“We got the cooling level wrong and therefore you need to lift and coast, you lose performance on the tyre and it was a bit of a vicious circle.

READ MORE: ‘We thought we’d be closer’ – Hamilton admits Mercedes had hoped for more after P7 finish in Bahrain

“As the race unfolded we had to lift and coast more to manage the temperatures on the power unit. We closed it up too much, that was the main issue. Then we didn’t have the pace, weirdly.”

Wolff added that Mercedes will be digging through the data and trying to learn as much as possible ahead of this week’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the very different Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Race Highlights: 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix

“It’s weird, because we had some pace in the car, and on the hard tyre we didn’t,” he commented. “I think there’s many mistakes we’ve done, but at the end we’re learning, we have a brand-new car.

“We’ve seen the glimpses of performance but couldn’t materialise any of that today, so I’m really keen to look at the data and see what we can do in Saudi.”

QUIZ: Saudi Arabia Special – Test your knowledge of the Jeddah street race

He signed off: “We gave both [drivers] a car that was today not competitive enough for the race. I think we know a few things why but obviously the two of them struggled during the race, you can see that.”

Mercedes sit third in the constructors’ standings, on 16 points, after the first of 24 races in 2024, 11 points behind Ferrari and a further 17 behind reigning world champions Red Bull.

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