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Wolff: Focus is on improving Mercedes W15 consistency

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Mercedes F1 Team face the daunting task of improving the consistency of their W15, as they embark on what Lewis Hamilton is calling the “worst start to a season” of his illustrious career.

After his DNF in Melbourne, Hamilton lamented on Sky F1: “It’s the worst start to a season I’ve ever had. It’s worse than 2009, It’s tough on the spirit for everyone in the team when so much work has been going on over the winter.

“You come in excited, driven and motivated, with the mindset you’re going to be fighting for wins, then that’s not the case. Then you think ‘Okay, maybe second or third’ and that’s not the case and it cascades a bit further down and you go through the motions,” explained the seven-time F1 World Champion.

Right now the Mercedes W15, in its four races of existence, has been consistently bad to be precise. Wolff and his team are probably trying to find a setup that would allow their drivers – Hamilton and George Russell – to drive the pesky car in anger with confidence and consistency of course.

Heading to the Japanese Grand Prix, Wolff said in the Mercedes preview of Suzuka: “After a difficult weekend in Australia, it’s good to get back racing in Japan this weekend. Since Melbourne, we have been focused on improving the consistency of the W15.

“The car has shown signs of strong performance on occasion, but we’ve struggled to deliver this at the critical moments across the first three races. Suzuka, with its famously fast sweeps mixed with some low-speed content, plus elevation change, will provide a different challenge to the circuits we’ve raced at so far.

“It is therefore another good opportunity to build on our learnings and analyse the work that has been undertaken since Australia,” ventured Wolff, boss of the team that has won in Japan on six occasions over the past decade.

After three rounds the points are: Merc-26, RRB-97

This 2024 F1 season, Mercedes have scored 26 points in three GPs and lie P4 in the 2024 F1 Constructors’ standings, one point ahead of Aston Martin but trail leaders Red Bull by 71 points already. Adding insult to injury is Lando Norris with Merc-customer team McLaren, he has one point more than Hamilton and Russell combined!

Looking ahead to Suzuka, Wolff continued: “We head to Japan at a slightly earlier time of year than usual this season. Whilst it is unlikely to have a major impact, it will be important to understand any differences that this causes in terms of track conditions.

“One thing that won’t change is the remarkable support from the Japanese fans. It is always a fantastic atmosphere at Suzuka and I am sure it will be the same once again this weekend,” was Wolff’s final spin on his team’s chances in Japan.

Over the years the venue has been a happy hunting ground for Mercedes at their mightiest, they claimed six consecutive wins at Suzuka between 2014 and 2019, and Hamilton is a four-time winner for them here. Valtteri Bottas (2019) and Nico Rosberg (2016) also won at the venue driving for the Silver Arrows.

It will also be the last Japanese Grand Prix for Hamilton, next year he will race here in a Ferrari.

Big Question: Can Mercedes turn their W15 into a race car for Lewis and George to battle for podiums at least?