Toto Wolff doesn’t believe Mercedes power units have a major disadvantage against the other manufacturers despite their poor showing at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
While the works team finished third and fourth after late retirements for two Red Bull drivers, the remaining six Mercedes-powered cars were the last on the road to complete the race after an uncompetitive run. However, Wolff feels setup approaches are more likely to explain the deficit, and says Ferrari has simply joined the other manufacturers in a similar ballpark.
“I think we need to analyze the drag levels first before we really make a judgment of whether we are lacking power,” Wolff said. “I don’t think there is a big difference between the power units but clearly Ferrari made a big step forward, because last year they weren’t totally competitive and if you look in Bahrain it looks as if they outperformed everyone else.”
For Wolff’s own team, it was a tough opening weekend that saw Mercedes clearly third quickest on the road, although the late issues for Red Bull led to a 27-point haul. However, the Mercedes team principal is less concerned about the final result and more about the learning that can be taken from the opening round.
“When I look at the season, with stable regs until 2026, it is how well you learn — that’s why for me I would qualify the race as a test. And there is more understanding where the gaps lie, and it is pretty much in every area. Now we need to regain land centimeter by centimeter.
“I think more than really bringing parts is an understanding of how we can unleash the performance that we believe to be in the car — or that we hope to be in the car, that’s a better word — before throwing bits at in terms of performance. This is where I would see it.”
Given the advantage Ferrari and Red Bull had in terms of performance in Bahrain, Wolff also admits Mercedes can’t consider itself a title contender this season unless it quickly closes that gap.
“It’s too early to really look at the championship as it stands. If we look at the pecking order today it seems very, very long shot to even think about being in the contention for any of the championships. But if I look at it as a single race weekend we probably scored the maximum points that we could have, and we need to take it from there. Every single weekend counts, and at the moment it is singular events because realistically when you’re third on the road you can’t think about winning it.”