Mercedes 'must find sweet spot' to negate Red Bull advantage – Wolff

Ian Parkes & Ewan Gale

Sunday 28 march 2021 09:30
– Updated: 09:32

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has demanded the team quickly finds the W12’s sweet spot in order to restore parity with Red Bull.

Max Verstappen blew the new Formula 1 season wide open with a dominant qualifying performance, finishing almost four-tenths of a second ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

The main storyline to emerge from the opening stanza of the year has been the difference in downforce levels experienced by cars running a high-rake and those with a low-rake.

A side-by-side comparison of times from qualifying this season and those of the same grand prix last year show teams running high-rake concepts have gained around a second of lap time relative to Mercedes and Aston Martin.

But Wolff insisted the team would look for answers within rather than changing philosophies.

“Definitely, there is a pattern,” said Wolff. “Low-rake cars seem to have lost more [downforce] than high-rake cars. That is the situation.

“If we would say we were just penalised by the regulations then we wouldn’t be racers, we wouldn’t be fighters. We just need to get that car in the sweet spot so it can combat with our competitors.”

Despite the obvious issues surrounding the rake of the car, Wolff suggested Mercedes had often struggled at the Bahrain International Circuit in the past.

“I think the car is just not in a happy place and Bahrain was not a particularly happy place last year either,” added the Austrian.

“This is a track layout and asphalt that Red Bull seems to master better than us but this is not at all an explanation that is acceptable.

“We just need to do what we have done in the last years, understand the car and the tyres, optimise the details and then we will be back in the fight.”