WOLFF CAUTIONS AGAINST MERCEDES "EXUBERANCE" AFTER STRONG F1 QUALIFYING

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton will start second and third in Melbourne, helped by a disastrous qualifying session for Red Bull's Sergio Perez that left the Mexican in 20th and last place on the grid.

The Mercedes performance represents a clear step forward after the first two races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which led the team to investigate a change of car concept.

Wolff stressed that, despite finding some extra speed from the W14 this weekend, the team should not lose sight of the bigger picture and should continue to push on with the planned change in order to achieve longer-term gains.

"I think we need to be careful not to oscillate between mania and depression, but keep the thinking rational," said Wolff.

"And what we've seen today is that there's a lot of potential unlocking within the car, that's clear, but we need to take the right decisions for the long term.

"And in that respect, we will continue to race the best possible package that we have. And whether that has a narrow body or wide body is irrelevant.

"We just need to have more downforce in the sweet spot of the car."

Pressed on whether or not he stood by the plan to switch concepts, he warned that the next race could easily  go the other way.

"This is exactly the swings that we must avoid," he said.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

"Because obviously you're delivering such a good qualifying today and it swings into exuberance, and we're like, 'OK everything we've thought was the wrong thing, let's continue to develop the car' and then, when the next bad result [happens], you think it the other way around.

"So we have never had any dogma on what the car needs to look like. We know exactly where we got it wrong.

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"We also know there's some goodness in the car, especially if we put every step over a weekend right and we are able to extract what's in the car, you can see that."

Nevertheless, Wolff conceded that the Melbourne performance – with the team outpacing Aston Martin and Ferrari – came as a welcome surprise.

"I could play it coolly and say well, that is all like we expected it," he said. "But it's not.

"I think what you need to love in this sport is that, with all the lows you have, you also have some highs.

"And obviously it's not where we want to be. We want to challenge all the way to the front, but finishing P2/P3 was definitely much more than we expected coming into this weekend."

Wolff was keen to praise his engineers for getting the tyres to work well, something that not all teams were able to do in the tricky conditions.

"I think it was just a brilliant job done by the team here in extracting the maximum out of the car," he said.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Jake Grant

"We did a great job on the tyres and the two drivers have delivered. You can see on the onboard that the car is still edgy to drive.

"It's not as easy as you see with the Aston Martin or with the Red Bull. But they are balancing the car on that razor's edge, and they were able to extract that today."

He added: "I think what was particularly good today was the agility of the team in deciding on the structure of the qualifying, when to put in the fast laps.

"I think the mechanical set-up group, including the tyres, did a good job, and the drivers obviously delivered."

2023-04-01T11:01:50Z dg43tfdfdgfd