Toto Wolff admits he is “bloody worried” about the Monaco Grand Prix given Mercedes’ struggles on street circuits in recent years.
Although Mercedes was the dominant force in Formula 1 from 2014-16, it was beaten to pole position by Daniel Ricciardo in Monaco two years ago and then failed to finish on the podium as Ferrari secured a one-two last year. That was coupled with an uncompetitive showing in Singapore in 2015, while the team also struggled at the same venue last year in qualifying but benefited from a first lap crash that took out both Ferraris and Max Verstappen.
Asked if he is worried about Monaco, Wolff (pictured at left, above, with Mercedes technical director James Allison, right) responded: “Bloody worried.
“We’ve seen in the last few years that there were always tracks that suited us well and some that we weren’t perfect on for whatever reason. It’s very difficult to undo the DNA of a car and Monaco, Budapest, Singapore were all tracks where we underperformed a lot last year.
“It’s a great challenge for us to come back this year, tame the diva — it’s not a diva this year actually, she’s behaving better — she has diva tires, but…it’s a difficult one.
“Why our car doesn’t like to be quick around the corners in Monaco we haven’t found out yet. We know what went wrong last year but as much as I’m overwhelmed with the victory [in Spain] my mind is already in Monaco and I remember Sunday night wasn’t as pleasant last year.”
Wolff said Mercedes is only the third-favorite team for victory in Monaco given the performance shown by its rivals.
“We don’t head into the weekend as favorites — they are Red Bull and Ferrari. Red Bull are strong in the slow-speed corners and where straight line speed is less important, while Ferrari dominated last year. Our job is to deliver a smooth practice program, apply our learning from recent races and maximize the potential of the car, whatever that proves to be.”
Hamilton won in Spain and says he understands Wolff’s concerns but will keep his own focus on extracting the best possible result regardless of how competitive the car is in Monaco.
“Naturally for Toto his job is to worry,” Hamilton said. “My job is not to worry so much but rather prepare and make sure that I extract everything from my engineers and make sure that the debrief that we have, make sure that when I reconnect with my engineers later on in the week that they have downloaded everything and make sure they have followed through with everything I have asked them to follow through with, sent the emails, done their research.
“Make sure that I come there fit and focused and what will be, will be. We know it is probably going to be a difficult weekend and the others could be quicker than us potentially but we might be surprised or we might not be.
“What we do is prepare ourselves the best we can and arrive, and whatever we are faced with, we’ll take it. As you can see this year you can still get great points in races that you don’t win and it is a long way to go still, so we will be focused on getting the maximum from the weekend regardless of whether we are fastest or not.”