“If I look at it from a mathematical standpoint and probability, I’d probably say that the odds are 20/80,” says Toto Wolff on chances of winning this year’s title. “But anything can happen.”; Mercedes second in both championships ahead of Imola weekend despite lack of pace
Last Updated: 21/04/22 6:15am
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes the team have around a 20 per cent chance of retaining their F1 title after a difficult start to the season, but says there may be improvements for this weekend’s Emilia Romagna GP.
Mercedes’ pace – or lack of – so far in 2022 has been one of the major storylines from the opening three races, with the team that are on a record streak of eight straight constructors’ championships having fallen well behind Ferrari and Red Bull’s performance with their new W13 car.
The Silver Arrows have managed to maximise their points with two podiums and are currently second in both championships – with George Russell behind Charles Leclerc in the drivers’ standings – but that has papered over the cracks of a huge deficit in pace, often around a second per lap.
And it is that gap to the top two that has team principal Wolff relatively pessimistic about their title hopes.
Speaking the day before the team capitalised on another Red Bull DNF at the Australian GP, Wolff admitted: “I think we are on the back foot.
“If I look at it from a mathematical standpoint and probability, I’d probably say that the odds are 20/80.
“But this is motor racing and in motor racing, anything can happen. Teams can DNF and if we unlock the potential of the car we are right back in the game.
“So as a motor racer I’d maybe say 40/60, as a mathematician the odds are worse against us.
“We are not going to write the title off but it’s just the current status quo – we are 0.9s off.”
Mercedes are currently 39 points behind Ferrari in the standings, while Russell is 34 points off Leclerc.
Do Mercedes have upgrades for Imola?
In the same press conference, Wolff hinted that the team would not be focusing on immediate upgrades for their car – which has violent ‘porpoising issues’ and is struggling through high-speed corners compared to their rivals.
Ferrari and Red Bull have both brought upgrades to their cars so far, to positive effect, but Mercedes have been biding their time.
“Nothing we did [in Melbourne] unlocked the aerodynamic potential or reduced the bouncing, we’re still in the same place,” Wolff told reporters. “That’s why it doesn’t make any sense to bring updates, because you’re confusing yourself even more. Maybe the more updates, the worse the bouncing gets?
“We are still learning. Is curing the bouncing the miraculous unlocking of a second? For sure, no. But there are many other improvements we can make along the way.
“I’m optimistic that eventually we’re going to get there, whether that’s two races or five.”
However, in Mercedes’ official preview for Emilia Romagna GP’s Sprint weekend, Wolff pointed to “improvements” on the car for the “next race”.
“We know we haven’t got the pace of the Ferrari and Red Bull right now,” said Wolff. “But we’re working hard to reduce their advantage, and it’s been brilliant to see everyone across the factories pulling together to achieve this.
“There’s been a lot of hard work over the Easter weekend in the factory to bring improvements to the car and get it ready to head to the next race, and that shows the team’s dedication to turning the situation around.
“Of course, we must be realistic, it will take time to make the gains we want, but we’re learning as much as we can from each race and finding avenues to push us forward.”
Watch the Emilia Romagna GP all live on Sky Sports F1 as the Sprint returns at Imola. The Sprint is at 3.30pm on Saturday, the Grand Prix starts at 2pm on Sunday.