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Mercedes need "physics not mystics" to catch Ferrari and Red Bull - Wolff

Mercedes need "physics not mystics" to catch Ferrari and Red Bull - Wolff

F1 News

Mercedes need "physics not mystics" to catch Ferrari and Red Bull - Wolff

Mercedes need "physics not mystics" to catch Ferrari and Red Bull - Wolff

Toto Wolff has insisted "physics not mystics" will dictate whether Mercedes can join Ferrari and Red Bull at the top of F1 this year.

The eight-time consecutive constructors' champions have struggled during the first weekend of the year, with Lewis Hamilton qualifying only fifth and George Russell ninth for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Russell finished behind the man he replaced at Mercedes in Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas, as well as Kevin Magnussen for Haas and Fernando Alonso for Alpine.

After the Silver Arrows were locked in an intense title fight last year, asked if the slow start was down to misplaced priorities in development through 2021, Wolff replied: "No, definitely not [that we] set the wrong priorities.

"We stumbled upon circumstances which made us realise we had an issue much too late. We had a solid first test but knew it was not entirely relevant because we would be bringing a massive upgrade to the test in Bahrain.

"Therefore, maybe you are looking at the data from the first test not in a way you should be. That is why when we put the car on the road in Bahrain, we were really surprised at the problems we have had.

"It took a while to understand them and now we are in the process of dialling them out but dialling them out means applying the science and the hard work. It is all physics, not mystics."

Mercedes to blame for Russell Q3 woe - Wolff

Wolff has put the blame on Mercedes' strategy for Russell's poor qualifying performance.

Russell lost almost a second at turn one of his final qualifying run as he finished 1.658secs slower than pole-sitter Charles Leclerc.

Team-mate Hamilton was able to put a clean run together but was still almost seven-tenths adrift of the Monégasque.

"We have to be realistic about our performance level at the moment and that is third quickest team on the grid," added Wolff.

"Lewis has put the car there and for George, it was probably us misguiding him because we advised him to take the out lap strong and probably he had no edge anymore for the new tyre."

Mercedes needed an extra set of tyres in Q2 which meant both Hamilton and Russell used a worn-set of softs at the beginning of Q3 which skewed the true performance overall.

"I think we are seven-tenths behind with one car, that is where we are," explained Wolff. "We had only one run on the new tyre in Q3, that is probably another two or three tenths, so realistically it is about half a second we are missing on a single lap.

"Let's see tomorrow, I am a little bit wary about where we will be tomorrow but in any case, it is learning."

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