Formula 1 Mercedes – Wolff: “Not just an engine deficit”

The provisional surrender came from Lewis Hamilton (36) after the Saudi Arabian GP. Fireworks erupted in the background to celebrate Red Bull champion Max Verstappen’s victory as the seven-time world champion relentlessly revealed the status quo of his Mercedes after tenth place. “We need more grip. We need more power. We don’t have enough speed,” stated the Briton in his press round.
The realization apparently solidified in the last laps. When Hamilton came back onto the track after his pit stop behind Kevin Magnussen, his race was over. “I don’t know what kind of engine the Haas have, but I couldn’t follow it,” the Englishman doesn’t mince his words.

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Toto Wolff even described the loss of place against Mick Schumacher’s Danish team-mate as a “game over”.
One thing is certain: the 1.6-liter V6 hybrid engine, which has manifested the permanent dominance of Mercedes over the past eight years, has a problem. According to Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko, the Mercedes drive is only the third most powerful in the field. According to information from AUTO BILD, the once highly acclaimed engine was up to 0.5 seconds behind the Ferrari and Red Bull drive units on the high-speed track in Saudi Arabia. Mercedes itself put the gap at a maximum of two tenths.

One reason is apparently the switch to E10 petrol. Since 2022, ten percent of the fuel must be CO2-neutral. Before it was only about half. Starting up the sustainable portion costs around 20 hp per se and required adjustments to the combustion chambers, which Ferrari and Red Bull-Honda are said to have managed better than Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton was only tenth in Saudi Arabia,

Insiders speculate that ex-engine boss Andy Cowell is missing. The father of the hybrid monster left the Mercedes engine workshop in Brixworth in mid-2020. Other top technicians have migrated to Red Bull in 2021, including Ben Hodgkinson, who worked at Mercedes as chief engine mechanic.

Mercedes team boss Wolff does not want to put the engine at the center of criticism. “It’s important not to point your finger at individual areas of the car. We operate as a team and we have deficits that are far greater than just an engine deficit. Are we among the top teams in any of these areas? I do not believe that. But you have to remember that this engine helped us win the Constructors’ Championship eight times in a row.”

Hamilton knows that, of course. He therefore also blames the aerodynamics for the lack of speed: “On the straights, it feels like we have extremely high air resistance.” It fits: In qualifying he only finished 17th in the Speed ​​Trap top speed measurements more than ten km/h on leader Sergio Perez in the Red Bull. The fact that Hamilton’s teammate George Russell still managed to finish ninth with “only” eight km/h less shows that Hamilton must have made a mistake in the set-up of his Silver Arrow in Jeddah to have.

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Alone: ​​whining doesn’t help. “Now we all have to pull together and pull ourselves out of this mess. We won’t let up until we’re back on top. This is an exercise in humility and it will make us stronger.”

However, Wolff rules out a short-term comeback. “The gap is too big to take part in the next races. Melbourne won’t be a walk in the park, but the season is long.”

What can become the biggest problem for Mercedes: The power units were frozen before the start of the season until the end of 2025 for cost reasons. This means that further developments for performance purposes are prohibited. Mercedes has to find top speed somewhere else.

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