Wolff: Mercedes has ‘massively backfired’ with Hamilton setup

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Toto Wolff has honestly declared Mercedes has “massively backfired” with experimental setup changes on Lewis Hamilton’s car ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton endured a miserable day of practice at Melbourne’s Albert Park in his W15, culminating in him finishing a lowly 18th on the timesheet at the end of the second practice session.

That was due in part to the seven-time F1 champion failing to exploit his soft-tyre runs when afforded the opportunity, whilst there was also an issue late on in FP2 due to damage to the left-front cake tin, the carbon-fibre brake shroud, that required duct tape to help repair.

Primarily, however, Mercedes attempts at experimenting in a bid to unlock performance the team is convinced is in the car simply did not pay off.

“Well, we’ve achieved experiment but we haven’t unlocked performance,” explained Wolff after FP2 to Sky Sports F1.

“I think in the second session, we’ve gone through a quite dramatic setup change on Lewis, and that has massively backfired but this is why we’re having those sessions.

“On the other side [George Russell] it was a bit better, but we are lacking performance. On a single lap, if he finishes that lap we’re a bit better but overall, it wasn’t a good thing.”

Russell was sixth quickest, almost seven-tenths of a second behind pacesetter Charles Leclerc in his Ferrari, with the Monégasque looking comfortable in his SF24.

Given Mercedes’ poor results so far after the first two races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, frustration is again starting to set in inside Mercedes as the team continues to try to get on top of the aerodynamic regulations that were introduced in 2022.

“If I would say that I’m not frustrated, it would not be the truth,” added Wolff. “Certainly we are [frustrated] because we’re trying so much in all directions, but we don’t seem to have found that silver bullet which helps get us in the right direction.

“We’ve got to keep trying. We’ve seen performance in this car before. I just don’t want to go back and say we’re just not good in these regulations because we have everything we need in order to get on top of that, and we will.”

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