Toto Wolff reveals how Mercedes will close gap ‘centimetre by centimetre’ on F1 rivals

Mercedes took third and fourth at the Bahrain Grand Prix but lack the straight-line speed of other cars

<p>Toto Wolff has outlined his plan to slowly close the gap on Mercedes’ F1 rivals </p>

Toto Wolff has outlined his plan to slowly close the gap on Mercedes’ F1 rivals

Toto Wolff has outlined his plan to close the gap on MercedesFormula 1 rivals “centimetre by centimetre”.

The German team finished an encouraging third and fourth at the season-opening Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton on the podium ahead of new teammate George Russell.

However Mercedes’ new car still clearly lacks the straight-line speed of potential fellow title contenders Ferrari and Red Bull.

The pace deficiency was evident both in qualifying and on race day as the eight-time reigning Constructors’ champions struggle to adapt to overhauled aerodynamic regulations.

For that reason, team principal Wolff is playing a long game, and says that he viewed the race at the Sakhir Circuit as something of a “test”.

“The long game is 10 years,” Wolff explained. “And that is why when I even look at the season, with stable regulations until 2026, it is how well you learn and that is why, for me, I would qualify the race as a test.

“There is more understanding of where the gaps lie, it is in pretty much every area, and now we just need to regain land centimetre by centimetre.”

Ferrari secured their first race one-two finish in three years as Charles Leclerc began the 2022 F1 season with a fine victory.

Carlos Sainz followed the Monegasque home.

It was a tougher opening Sunday of the season for Red Bull, with both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez failing to finish after encountering problems.

With Hamilton having been controversially pipped to the 2021 F1 world title by maiden champion Verstappen, Wolff could have been forgiven for a degree of schadenfreude, but the Austrian insists that he felt sorry for Red Bull’s tough beginning.

Wolff said: “I don’t wish anybody that, and it was certainly a brutal race for them.”

The second race of the season takes place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia this weekend.

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