Spa breakthrough behind Mercedes’ leap forward – Wolff | 2018 Russian Grand Prix

Toto Wolff has revealed Mercedes made a breakthrough during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend which has transformed their pace of their car at two circuits where they struggled last year.

For the second race weekend in a row Mercedes have taken pole position at a track where Ferrari did last year. Their lead over the next-closest car in qualifying yesterday was the biggest it has been since the Australian Grand Prix.

Wolff said the team has made gains with the W09’s performance in slow corners since the Belgian Grand Prix. “The biggest learning actually happened in Spa,” Wolff told media including RaceFans yesterday. “We lost the race in Spa and we knew why.

“We were really struggling around the chicane and La Source and this gave us a clue of what we needed to look at. We went to Singapore to try to find out whether it was actually the right clue and it was and this is why the understanding of the car generally became much better.

“And then obviously also on the engine side we introduced a new engine after the summer and we started to understand and all that adds up.”

But Wolff said the Spa breakthrough is not the only step forward the team has made with its car.

“I think you cannot pin it down to one single factor and say [Ferrari] have lost straight line speed or we have understood our car much better.

“It’s always those marginal gains that contribute to an overall lap time gain that we have achieved. We have tried not to look to much on Ferrari or the other teams but concentrate on understanding why our car is not performing.”

There are some areas where Ferrari are still stronger than Mercedes, Wolff believes. “We can see that on power Ferrari seems to have a tiny little advantage still, we’ve seen [in qualifying]

“I think mostly we have understood the car and tyres a little bit better over the last races. Singapore was always an Achilles’ Heel of ours and we’ve worked hard to comprehend why that was and we won with our own pace.

“The same here where we struggled last year and today we were able to really have some decent laps in qualifying.”

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2018 F1 season

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