Toto Wolff Explains Why Baku Qualifying Will Be a Flashback of Singapore GP 2015 for Mercedes

Published 06/05/2021, 7:38 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Portuguese Grand Prix – Algarve International Circuit – Portimao, Portugal – April 30, 2021 Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff talks in the Team Principals Press Conference FIA/Handout via REUTERS


Heading into the sixth round of the season in Azerbaijan, Mercedes struggled to find any pace with both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas ending FP2 in P11 and P16, respectively. Adding to Silver Arrows’ misery was the fact that title rivals Red Bull, who took the lead of the constructors’ championship for the first time since 2013 after Monaco, secured a P1 and P2 in the second free practice session.

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In FP1, the seven-time world champion finished the session P7 and was seven-tenths down on the pace set by Max Verstappen. The former’s teammate, Bottas, was a further second back down in P10.

It got no better for either Mercedes driver in FP2, Hamilton slipping down to P11, outpaced by Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri, and Alpine. Bottas, too, slipped down to P16.

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After the free practice session, Toto Wolff admitted there is something “fundamentally wrong” with the W12, and so thinks it could be Mercedes’ most difficult qualifying in his time there. This qualifying session also reminds him of the Singapore Grand Prix 2015.

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What did the Mercedes team principal say after the FP2 session?

Toto Wolff revealed that while the Silver Arrows have a powerful car, the 90 degrees corners in Baku are not helping them over one lap.

“We have a strong race car, but we are struggling to get it for one lap. It is the same as we have seen in Monaco, we don’t deliver in some sections, and it seems to continue in Baku,” said the Silver Arrows team principal.

Formula One F1 – Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action during practice REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

“There are only 90-degree corners here, so it was always clear that it would be difficult for us. You can clearly see in the lap times that something is fundamentally wrong. We are now trying to tune the car so that it works.

“Probably qualifying will be one of the most difficult session I have ever seen for us. It reminds me of Singapore 2015,” said Toto Wolff.

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Singapore quali back in 2015 was quite an unusual day for Mercedes. The Silver Arrows were P1 and P2 in first practice, with Nico Rosberg ahead of Hamilton. But then, their world turned upside down.

The Mercedes duo slipped down to P4 and P7 in second practice, after which the Ferraris and Red Bulls suddenly seemed to have gained an advantage over them.

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After a terrible outing at the street circuit in Monaco, Mercedes had predicted another trouble-ridden street race for themselves. Do you think they were right? Or will the Stuttgart outfit show their true pace during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix?

Let us know in the comments below.

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Pingaksh Sharma

255 articles

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