‘One of the worst days in racing’ – Wolff says Mercedes must be ‘radical’ after Bahrain reality check

Toto Wolff has offered a head-to-head assessment of Mercedes’ performance across the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, admitting early pacesetters Red Bull are “on another planet”.

Mercedes went into 2023 aiming to right the wrongs of the W13 with their revised W14 – albeit sticking to the ‘zero sidepod’ concept – but found themselves behind Red Bull, Ferrari and Aston Martin in the season-opening pecking order.

READ MORE: ‘We’re the fourth fastest team now’ – Hamilton offers honest Mercedes assessment as he admits team ‘going backwards’

With Lewis Hamilton and George Russell coming home fifth and seventh in Sakhir, almost a minute clear of race winner Max Verstappen and behind the third-placed Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso, Mercedes boss Wolff was left to consider where his team goes from here.

“Well, one of the worst days in racing – really not good at all. We just lack pace up front, right and centre. That’s the reflection of the tests. Aston Martin are very fast, they deserve it, and Red Bull is just on another planet,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.

Given the dominant nature of Red Bull’s one-two result, Wolff added: “I think that’s what hurts because they’re so far ahead. It reminds me of our best years when we just wanted put one second (per lap) on everyone else.

“That’s the benchmark, but we’ve got to put one step after another just to come back and we can do that – we absolutely can.”

When asked about Mercedes’ development plan and whether it is just a case of waiting for a rumored update at the sixth round of the season at Imola, Wolff added: “No, I think it has to be much more radical – much more radical in the steps than simply hoping for a three-tenths upgrade.”

READ MORE: Mercedes is ‘back to reality’, says Russell after P7 finish in Bahrain

One positive Wolff took from the 2023 opener was Hamilton’s post-race radio message to boost spirits in the Mercedes camp, with the seven-time world champion saying “I believe in you all” as the team look to make up. .

“It shows the management. There must be a lot of suffering in there, because the car is just so unstable, but he is amazing. He’s been a massive performance contributor, not just in the car,” Wolff said before the pair embraced in the Mercedes garage.

Mercedes left Bahrain third in the constructors’ standings, behind Red Bull and Aston Martin, but ahead of Ferrari following Charles Leclerc’s retirement from a podium position.

‘It was a fun race, we’re just not fast enough’ – Mixed feelings for Hamilton after P5 in season opener

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