Toto Wolff believes part of the recent gains made by Ferrari have been highlighted by a lack of updates from Mercedes, and says there will be no more major new parts this season.
Ferrari had failed to win a race before the summer break, but returned to win in Spa and Monza before taking a surprise victory in Singapore. All three victories came after Ferrari secured pole position, and a fourth straight pole in Russia looked set to yield a one-two finish before Sebastian Vettel’s retirement brought out a well-timed Virtual Safety Car that enabled Mercedes to take victory. With Wolff aware of the performance swing at the front, the Mercedes team principal says it is a combination of a Ferrari upgrade in Singapore and a lack of development from his team.
“I think the truth will be somewhere in the middle,” Wolff said. “I think they have, and continued to make big steps in straight-line performance and they have had a good car in Singapore, a very good car in Sochi, and if you put these dots together you are setting the benchmark. And this is what they did over the last two weekends.
“At the same time, we haven’t brought upgrades onto the car for a long time, and we haven’t managed things as optimum as you can manage. But also we’ve been a bit unlucky with some of our calls — over the last few races we could have won some of these races but we didn’t, and (in Russia) we turned our bad luck into good luck.”
Wolff says the development program at Mercedes is in line with what the team had scheduled, as it looks toward its 2020 and 2021 cars.
“That’s the way it was planned. You’ve got to manage your resources in the right way, also looking into next year — that is something that we consider very carefully.
“There will be little things at Suzuka, that we are interested to explore, but not the big steps that we had and we pushed very hard until the summer.”
Wolff also confirmed that next season’s car will be a similar concept to the current design that saw Mercedes start the year so strongly. Lewis Hamilton is mathematically able to win the drivers’ championship at the Mexican Grand Prix in two races’ time.