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Toto Wolff

Wolff reveals Mercedes qualifying sacrifice

Mercedes will start the Bahrain Grand Prix from third and ninth on the grid respectively.

Toto Wolff 2024
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To news overview © RacingNews365/Michael Potts

Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has insisted the team sacrificed qualifying to find a "sweet spot" with the new W15 for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Silver Arrows will start the new F1 season from third and ninth on the grid after contrasting fortunes for George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

Russell challenged Ferrari's Charles Leclerc for a place on the front row of the grid whilst Hamilton, who revealed he and his teammate had taken different set-up routes, was left to rue a lowly starting position knowing he had switched focus to the race.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after qualifying, Wolff said: "I think P3 is ok, we felt we had a little more pace: three-tenths off pole, [on Thursday] it looked better.

"But we put the car in a sweet spot for the race, at least this is what we hope.

"So with P3, P9, the gaps are so close, we would have hoped for more."

'We are still learning'

Hope had been high for the Brackley-based outfit following Hamilton's session-best lap time in second practice, the most representative session of the weekend for qualifying performance.

Explaining why things changed between Thursday and Friday, Wolff conceded: "The set-up changes contributed to less performance.

"At the beginning of qualifying, we thought 'maybe we have taken too much performance off sacrificing for the race, but in the end, we got it alright with George.

"But [the race] should be better. We are still learning about this car."

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