Toto Wolff continues to miss the presence in the Mercedes garage of the late Niki Lauda whose forthright and direct approach to the team’s affairs would have proven useful in these troubled times for the Brackley squad.
Lauda joined Mercedes as a shareholder and as the outfit’s non-executive chairman in 2012, the F1 legend and triple world champion serving as a pivotal figure alongside Wolff during the team’s build-up ahead of the introduction of the sport’s hybrid era in 2014.
After Lauda’s passing at the age of 70 in May 2019, Wolff admitted to losing a friend rather than a colleague, the pair spending most of their time together on race weekends, dining together in the evening, talking shop or discussing family matters.
Last weekend in Saudi Arabia, Wolff was asked if Lauda’s absence and guidance were perhaps missed more than ever given Mercedes’ hardship.
“Niki is missed all those years because Niki always simplified things to really what mattered,” Wolff explained.
“And so I’m having to think what would he have said, and how would he have positioned, and the two of us worked well together in that sense that sometimes oversimplification can lead you straight to the results but there are lots of nuances.
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“This is a technical sport so maybe my role was to translate it in a way that we actually were able to execute it in the car design. But this is very simple: the stopwatch never lies, and we see on the data where we are missing and that needs to be corrected.”
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Mercedes is now attacking its problems head on, the team’s engineers embarking on a mission to change the concept of their 2023 car in a bid to turn around the Brackley squad’s fortunes.
So what are Mercedes’ goals for the remained of the season?
“The goals: I’d like to win every race, but that’s not realistic,” Wolff said.
“The goals are that, based on the understanding we have now, over the next iterations of updates and learning, we can shave off a lot of performance deficit, because now we know and now we have all taken a decision in which direction to go.”
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