Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff insists there will be no “magic fix” to cure Mercedes’ stuttering start to the 2022 Formula 1 season, but says he is targeting an improved display at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.
The Silver Arrows, vying for a ninth successive constructors’ title, have struggled to match the pace of rivals Ferrari and Red Bull in the early weeks of the season.
To make matters worse, the recent Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, won by Max Verstappen after an epic duel with Charles Leclerc, saw neither Mercedes car qualify inside the top five for the first time since the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in 2013, as Lewis Hamilton suffered a surprise elimination in Q1.
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Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, enjoyed his only podium of 2022 at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix as a late double-retirement from Red Bull saw him elevated up into third place, one place ahead of team-mate George Russell.
However, their urgent need for pace was laid bare in first practice at the Australian Grand Prix as Hamilton and Russell finished seventh and 12th respectively, more than a second off the pace of leading Ferrari Carlos Sainz.
"We are in a learning race and the first two weekends have shown we still have plenty to learn,” Wolff said in the lead-up to first practice.
“At the moment, our track performance is not meeting our own expectations, but everyone at Brackley and Brixworth is focused on understanding the problems and finding the right solutions.
“There won’t be a magic fix for the next race weekend, but we’re pushing to steadily bring gains over the upcoming races, to hopefully move us closer to the front of the pack.
“Until then, we need to maximise each opportunity and make the most of the package we have.”
Despite his lowly qualifying position in Jeddah last time out, Hamilton was able to make up six places and finish 10th overall. He went on to praise his team post-race, saying: "We’ve got a lot of work to do, for sure, but I know we’ve got a great team and we’ll just keep our heads down and try to improve."
Those comments were echoed by Wolff, who also commended his two drivers for their part in attempting to turn Mercedes’ fortunes around ahead of this weekend’s action at Albert Park, making its F1 return for the first time since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Lewis and George are making an important contribution to the overall effort, providing feedback, spending time in the simulator and working together to help push us forward,” he said.
“There are various challenges ahead of us, but that’s something we relish, and is when a team really shows its true spirit.”
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