Team principal Toto Wolff is confident Mercedes has worked out the direction it needs to take in the first part of this season and is on the right path to recovery.
Mercedes was off the pace in pre-season testing and unable to challenge for a podium in Bahrain, leading the team to admit it got its car concept wrong and immediately work to rectify the issue. After a slightly stronger showing in Saudi Arabia it was in Australia that Mercedes made the clearest step forward as Lewis Hamilton finished second and George Russell led for a spell having started on the front row. Wolff says the team knows where it is heading.
“In terms of car development, it is encouraging to see that within three races, we understand the car much better — we have defined a clear direction where we need to go and I believe we are on the right trajectory,” Wolff said. “We need to consolidate our understanding and hopefully over the next few races we can make another step.
“It’s also important to keep on track and not oscillate too much between exuberance and depression; to stay rational and believe in our trajectory, believe in the capability of the team. There will be setbacks but there will also be upgrades and plenty of work that will help us get closer to the front.”
While the first sprint event of the season takes place in Baku next weekend, Wolff says there will be a constant stream of upgrades to try and improve car performance during a busy spell of races.
“We understand the knowledge that we need to recover. We need to have a steeper development curve than Red Bull and fundamentally, we want to compete for race wins. They are setting the benchmark now. We trust in the process and in the people, and there will be setbacks. But if the trajectory is up, that’s where we want to be heading.
“Baku is a very different track. It’s high speed on the straights and it’s always an entertaining race. Miami’s track layout is also a unique challenge. Going back there is fantastic with lots of marketing and partnership activities. And then obviously Imola, where we will start the first tripleheader (three consecutive race weekends) of the season.
“We will consistently be bringing upgrades to the car over the next few races, which is something to look forward to. But there is no such thing as a magic bullet that transforms the car, and it’s about being realistic with your expectations. Hopefully we will see a steady improvement.”