The head of the Mercedes team, Toto Wolff, believes that unfavorable weather conditions cannot be considered a valid reason, which can be attributed to an unsuccessful performance in qualifying on the Turkish circuit..
Q: Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas attributed the poor qualifying performance to tire temperature and lack of grip. Were you surprised that your riders had so many problems, or did you fear in advance that if it rains, everything could go according to this scenario?
Toto Wolff: In my opinion, this year we have never been left without pole position if the qualification took place in the rain. But today the conditions were different, because it was not only wet, but there was also a completely new asphalt, very slippery. In addition, air and highway temperatures are quite low.
I guess we just could not get the tires to work properly, because if they are not warmed up to the right temperatures, the car slides along the entire track. This led to the fact that the gaps between teams and between cars were very large. Our rubber was too cold and we never managed to achieve traction.
Question: If we talk about replacing the track coverage: we have seen examples more than once that this factor can affect the conditions of the game in its own way. Do you think Formula 1 should have foreseen this somehow? Or everything is on an equal footing, so there’s nothing you can do about it?
Toto Wolff: Portimao also had new coverage and I think we should be grateful to the local organizers for their efforts. But in hindsight, we are all strong, so now we probably think that changing the asphalt was not worth it. But as it is, it is, and you are absolutely right: everyone is on equal terms.
Q: You own a certain share of the Racing Point team, which will change its name to Aston Martin next year. Is there a chance that you could leave Mercedes to lead Aston Martin?
Toto Wolff: I do not have a stake in the Aston Martin Racing team, I have shares in Aston Martin, which makes cars. There is no direct connection between the two, as the team is owned by Lawrence Stroll and his consortium, while Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings is a public company and has many shareholders.
The Daimler concern is probably one of the largest, if not the largest; Lance Stroll and his consortium also own a large share, while I am a minority shareholder, and for me it is just an investment. I like this brand, but I am completely satisfied with my position as co-owner and leader of the Mercedes Formula 1 team. And I’m not going to lead a company that makes cars.
Q: According to the results of qualification, Lewis and Valtteri were outside the top five – do you think they will be able to recoup in the race?
Toto Wolff: Does anyone remember the last time we missed the top five? They tell me that it was in Monza in 2013. So this was my first year as the leader of this team. Horror. In general, we will have to draw conclusions.
Conditions today were very different from what we saw on average during the season. The air temperatures and the highways were very low, it was raining, and we drove along the highway with completely new asphalt. But it doesn’t matter, because everyone is on an equal footing, and today we were not able to achieve efficient tire performance and grip, while others did.
I always say that on days of failure, we learn best. Today is such a day. Hopefully in the future we will learn how to warm up tires even in cold weather.
Q: In the third training session, Lewis almost did not work on the track – do you think that in today’s conditions it was a mistake, and if he drove more laps, he would have been better prepared for qualification?
Toto Wolff: No. At the end of the training session, we made an attempt, but it was too damp, in such conditions there is no point in leaving the boxes.
Q: Although there are no spectators in the stands of Istanbul Park this weekend, there is a lot of interest in Formula 1 in Turkey: what can you say about the atmosphere that accompanies the weekend? Would you like the Turkish Grand Prix to appear on the calendar next season?
Toto Wolff: I have not been to Istanbul since 2011, and then I liked everything. It’s good that we came back here. This year we are competing on several tracks on which races have already been held in the past, Istanbul Park is one of them. Personally, I like it here, and I would not like to be deprived of the opportunity to perform here again.
This weekend we faced some difficulties, which suggests that there are weaknesses in our preparation. We must eliminate them, and we will remember this race just as we remember our not the best performances, for example, in Singapore. It’s great that Turkey has an interest in Formula 1, and I hope that tomorrow we can put on a good show.