Toto Wolff admits Mercedes has to change its mindset this season in the face of a battle with Ferrari for the drivers’ and constructors’ championships.
Mercedes has enjoyed three dominant years since the introduction of the V6 turbo power units in 2014, comfortably winning both titles on each occasion. With new aerodynamic regulations introduced this season, Mercedes is now facing a close fight with Ferrari and Mercedes executive director Wolff admits the team’s mindset needs to change after Sebastian Vettel secured his second win in three races in Bahrain.
“It’s a different situation,” Wolff said. “In the last three years we had an internal fight – of course you set your mindset in that direction – and this is a new situation which I’m sure the team will handle well. I’m seeing positives [with the] change of regulations, and we’re in the fight for race wins and we’re in the fight for the titles at the moment, you can say that, but I think there’s just generally good news.”
While Wolff takes greater satisfaction from winning races in a tight battle, he says the two Ferrari victories this year have been tougher to take than he expected.
“Losing feels much worse than winning feels great – unfortunately that is at the moment it feels really wrong. Bouncing back and winning feels even better, and we have enjoyed winning in China, a lot, and in hindsight it’s a good motivation as well. And probably for Formula 1 it’s good as well if there’s a fight between Ferrari and Mercedes, so we have to see it like sportsmen – we have a fight that’s on and that is how it is, even though it feels s**t right now!”
Having enjoyed a good relationship with Ferrari over the past few years, Wolff is keen to retain that positive link despite the on-track competition.
“[The relationship] doesn’t change. We’re getting on well with Ferrari, there’s great respect between the two teams and between the two brands. I’m getting along with [Sergio] Marchionne very well as well as [Maurizio] Arrivabene (pictured with Wolff) and [Mattia] Binotto.
“It doesn’t change anything, we have great respect for the humans, and they’ve done a good job which we have to admit. I’d rather have our mindset or philosophy similar to what you have in rugby – it’s hard, fierce competitors, and trying to beat each other but we are able to drink a beer afterwards.”