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Toto Wolff

Wolff picks 'strange' best race of season for Mercedes

The Mercedes Team Principal choses his highlight of the 2023 Formula 1 season, but it's not what you would expect.

Hamilton USA
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Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has chosen the United States Grand Prix as the best race for the outfit in 2023, despite Lewis Hamilton having been disqualified from second place.

The seven-time World Champion finished second on the road after a close finish with Max Verstappen, in what appeared to be one of Mercedes most competitive races of the year.

It later emerged that both Hamilton and Charles Leclerc, who finished third, failed the post-race inspection process carried out by the FIA due to excessive skid-block wear.

Mercedes blamed the disqualification on a combination of the excessive bumps at the Circuit of the Americas and the nature of the weekend itself, owing to the Sprint format which gave them limited options to change car setup.

When asked about his highlight for the 2023 season, Wolff chose this race even though they came away without a podium: "This might sound strange, because we got disqualified, but Austin!

"We brought an upgrade package that worked, the car was performing well, and we were hunting down the leader. You could say, ‘well, you were disqualified for a car that was too low’, but the genuine performance was there and that was an enjoyable weekend.

"I've always said that I'd rather have a fast car that we haven't tuned in the right way. And obviously you need to finish. But that was the best weekend overall, seeing that the correlation between the wind tunnel and the track was good."

Key learnings for 2024

The W14 proved to be another difficult car for Mercedes, as they struggled to produce the results they anticipated after a strong finish to the 2022 season.

The switch in car concepts midway through the year bought them some performance, but overall they still lacked the pace to challenge for a win. Wolff believes this will be one of their key learnings heading into the 2024 season for the W15.

"During the year, we realised that our car was not operating in as stable a manner as we had predicted. That is perhaps because we didn't develop it in the necessary window," explained Wolff.

"It was clear that the interaction between chassis and tyres didn't work perfectly. So, in that respect, this was the most important learning."

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