Mercedes boss Wolff warns 'no magic fix' for Melbourne
Lewis Hamilton's hopes of winning a third Australian Grand Prix were handed a reality check by boss
MELBOURNE (AFP) - Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of winning a third Australian Grand Prix were handed a reality check by Mercedes boss Toto Wolff Thursday, who warned there was "no magic fix" to the problems plaguing his car.
The once-dominant Silver Arrows have fallen well short of Red Bull and Ferrari in the opening two races of the season following a series of design changes to comply with new regulations for the 2022 season.
A key problem has been porpoising -- bouncing at high speed -- and Mercedes have been working round the clock to remedy the issue at their British base since the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix two weeks ago.
But while Mercedes, who have won the last eight constructors’ world championships, are tipped to introduce a new rear wing in Melbourne, Wolff warned they still had a lot to do.
"We are in a learning race and the first two weekends have shown we still have plenty to learn," he said.
"At the moment, our track performance is not meeting our own expectations, but everyone at Brackley and Brixworth is focused on understanding the problems and finding the right solutions.
"There won’t be a magic fix for the next race weekend, but we’re pushing to steadily bring gains over the upcoming races, to hopefully move us closer to the front of the pack.
"Until then, we need to maximise each opportunity and make the most of the package we have."
At the opener in Bahrain, seven-time world champion Hamilton finished third behind the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, but only after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez retired in the closing stages. Hamilton’s teammate George Russell was fourth.
In Saudi Arabia, Hamilton managed only 10th, while Russell fared a little better in fifth, but still considerably off the pace of the Ferraris and Red Bulls who filled the top four.
Despite the frustrations, Wolff praised his drivers’ patience.
"There are various challenges ahead of us, but that’s something we relish and is when a team really shows its true spirit," he said.
"Lewis and George are making an important contribution to the overall effort, providing feedback, spending time in the simulator and working together to help push us forward."
The early-season problems have left Mercedes trailing Ferrari by 40 points in the constructors’ championship after two grands prix, with Hamilton in fifth place in the drivers’ standings, 29 adrift of leader Leclerc.
Hamilton has claimed pole position eight times in Melbourne, including the last six. He won in 2008 and 2015.