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Mercedes Losing Big in Saudi Arabia: Wolff Reveals Half-Second Deficit

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Headshot of Toto Wolff with a worried expression.

Mercedes’ hopes for a quick turnaround in the 2023 Formula 1 season seem to be fading, after a dismal outing at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Team boss Toto Wolff revealed the W15 car is suffering a massive performance hit in high-speed corners, causing them to bleed critical time on the track.

The Bleak Numbers

Neither George Russell nor Lewis Hamilton could salvage a strong result in Jeddah. Russell clawed his way up slightly to sixth, while Hamilton lost a spot and finished ninth. The worrying part, according to Hamilton, is that Mercedes seems “miles off” in those fast corners – a traditional area of strength for the team.

Toto Wolff put a devastating number on that gap: a half-second loss in just three corners of the Jeddah circuit. This made it almost impossible for the drivers to mount any serious challenges.

Photo of the Mercedes W15 car visibly understeering through a high-speed corner in Saudi Arabia.

Strategy Shifts Fail to Deliver

Mercedes even gambled on an alternate strategy, hoping to gain an advantage. However, low tire degradation across the entire grid meant that it didn’t pay off.

Work Ahead: Australia Looms

The upcoming break before the Australian Grand Prix couldn’t come at a better time for Mercedes. “There is so much learning we can take from these first two race weekends,” Wolff admitted. “It’s clear that we’ve got a lot of work to do, but these tough days make you better.”

Russell’s Worry: Getting Worse, Not Better

George Russell’s comments were particularly alarming. He suggests Mercedes is actually getting slower as race weekends progress. They showed decent speed early on, but by qualifying, the pace had vanished. He emphasized that this wasn’t due to rivals getting faster, raising serious concerns about Mercedes’ own development trajectory.pen_spark

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