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russell wolff hamilton mercedes f1

Wolff: Not coming to Japan the wrong choice

russell wolff hamilton mercedes f1

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff U-turned on an original plan not to attend the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix, admitting it would’ve been the wrong choice.

Mercedes are enduring another difficult start to a Formula 1 season, as the team is yet to get to grips with the current ground effect regulations, their new for 2024 W15 still a too precarious car for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell to handle.

Mercedes changed their design philosophy with their 2024 car, after their radical zero sidepod concept infamously bombed in 2022 and 2023, but they do not seem to have been able to achieve a breakthrough they hoped for as they get ready to bid Hamilton – going to Ferrari in 2025 – farewell.

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Wolff was not planning to attend the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend as he needed to attend to many tasks back in Europe, but he eventually made the trip to Suzuka.

Asked about his change of plans in the team bosses press conference on Friday, Wolff said: “I had planned not to come to Japan because there’s so much on back in Europe, things to do.

“But then I felt not coming to Japan was the wrong choice. I think it’s important to be with the race team also. It does me good also to be close to the action. We are experimenting with a few things and then being part of the team really gives me energy. I hope the other way around too. So that’s why I decided against staying in Europe,” he explained.

Mercedes will benefit from rough patch on the long term

As to how Mercedes’ 2024 struggles compared to previous years, the Austrian said: “I think we’re a sports team. We’ve won eight times in a row and that hasn’t been done before. You have periods where you struggle like any other sports team and you can’t win every time.

“That’s why this is a super challenge,” he added. “It’s not a race, it’s not one single season and then you come back out on top, but it’s the third one in a row.

“But I remain absolutely convinced that we will be looking back in a few years and saying that was so tough but so important for the development of the team from maybe an organisational standpoint, from re-evaluating our tools and systems, which clearly don’t work as good as they did in previous regulations,” the Mercedes boss maintained.

Mercedes, currently fourth in the 2024 F1 Constructors’ Championship with 26 points, are still on the look to replace Hamilton in 2025, Wolff revealing they have already shortlisted two to three drivers.