Toto Wolff: ‘Hoped for More’ Than Third in Qualifying

Toto Wolff has revealed they had “hoped for more” than third place on the grid at Bahrain, but he remains optimistic about the race, noting that the W15’s setup was optimized with race day in mind.

The Brackley-based team fell off the top of the pecking order after the 2021 campaign, with their challengers, the W13 and W14 failing to meet expectations.

Much anticipation surrounded the performance of Mercedes’ W15, as the off-season was rife with speculation about the new cars.

Through testing and practice, teams sought to establish a competitive order for the start of the F1 2024 season. The Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying sessions shed light on this order over a single lap.

George Russell, securing third place on the grid for the Silver Arrows may seem like a positive outcome, yet it didn’t meet Wolff’s expectations for the qualifying session.

The Mercedes team principal explained that while third place on the Bahrain grid was less than they had aspired to, he is positive about their race prospects, emphasizing that the W15 was specifically tailored for race performance.

Wolff to speaking to Sky Sports said: “P3 is okay, we thought we had a little bit more pace, we were three tenths off pole.”

He continued: “Yesterday it looked better, but we put the car in a sweet spot for tomorrow’s race, at least this is what we hope. P3 [to] P7, so close the gaps, would have hoped for more.

“I think the setup changes that we made, they contributed to less performance today. At the beginning of qualifying, we thought, ‘Oh, maybe we’ve taken too much performance off, sacrifice for tomorrow’s race’, but then at the end, we got it quite okay with George, but tomorrow should be better.

“But we’re still learning about this car.”

When asked about the specific reasons behind Hamilton’s ninth-place position on the Bahrain Grand Prix grid, Wolff emphasized that it was a matter of “tiny margins.”

“You get the tyres in the optimum window, it’s just two tenths, big difference, and then you’re right in the game,” Wolff added.