During free practice 2 on Saturday morning, the two Mercedes seemed to have finally found the right pace with George Russell leading the pack in P1 and his teammate in P4.
Yet, with the weather conditions changing again, neither of them made it to the top ten in the sprint race, complicating their race from the offset.
Yesterday there was a much talked about camera shot showing Lewis Hamilton and Wolff having a chat. Many people assumed that was the result of anger and frustration from the seven-time world champion.
However, Wolff wanted to clarify that there is nothing wrong between the two. On the contrary, “it’s quite funny to see how it was interpreted,”
“Lewis and I shared frustration that we couldn’t extract one good lap and how annoying it was”
“It was just anger but there is no division in the team. We obviously feel the pressure, as a team, because we want to get things to work.
“Nobody in the team is nowhere near enjoying how things are at the moment. But we’ve done it in the past, we just got to dig ourselves out of this hole”, commented Toto Wolff.
Before approaching the Emilia Romagna GP, Wolff talked about a “20% chance of winning the Championship”, but with how things are going so far, he doesn’t think this assumption holds still.
“We’re 4 races into the championship and today probably marks the lowest point of this season so far. It is obvious that we’re not fighting for positions at the front. It would be pretty unrealistic to claim we have a slot in among the runners for the Championship”
The expectations for tomorrow’s race are not the most optimistic one would expect from a team like Mercedes.
“It is a humbling experience for sure” said Wolff while claiming that scoring points would be the bare minimum but also confessing that given the nature of the circuit it won’t be easy to gain a lot of positions.
After winning eight consecutive Titles, how can a team like Mercedes navigate stormy waters? “I think you cannot fight frustration completely," said Toto.
“You simply have to acknowledge that there is a degree of frustration and set the right expectations for yourselves.
“At the moment, the past eight world championships are to be forgotten. We just need to focus on how to work with the car we have.
“We must rely on science and physics and understand how to make our car work as we know it can".
Struggling since day 1, the team has put on hold any major updates to its car until it fully understands what lies behind the difficulties encountered so far. This, however, has not stopped it from delivering some minor developments for this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
With the car suffering from excessive porpoising, Mercedes is trying to focus on the triggers of the phenomenon, and the air flow separations that can set off the problematic stall as the car nears the ground.
“At the moment I think it is clear that our performance is not good enough to even overtake mid-field cars,” commented the Austrian Team Boss.
However, he reckons that their car’s project is not to be thrown away completely.
“As it stands, all goods and bads are happening because of the floor. We have some interesting ideas that we are exploring and that could make their way into the car in the next few races.
“I don’t think the concept we developed is wrong. There are certain parts that simply do not work within these cars and regulatory frameworks. But we don’t need to throw away everything.”
With the new budget cap coming into force from this season, the amount of money that each team can spend on car upgrades has a roof that cannot be exceeded. However, Toto is not worried about it.
"Before we make a decision of completely changing our project, we must continue to follow the science and understand what is that is not working, because at the moment we still don't know.
"The financial aspect is not impacting that much in areas that will remain stable for next year. Because whether we do it this year or next year, it is all about deciding what we want to keep pursuing and what needs to be redesigned completely".