Toto Wolff instructs Mercedes to emulate Red Bull by solving crucial Bahrain GP problem

Lewis Hamilton to change his name

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Toto Wolff has insisted that Mercedes will need to improve their pit stops as well as some elements of their car in order to challenge the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari on a consistent basis over the course of this season. The Silver Arrows were almost a second per lap slower than their Constructors’ Championship rivals at the Bahrain Grand Prix and will have plenty of work to do over the coming months in order to chip away at their performance deficit before the new campaign takes shape.

Mercedes were comfortably adrift of Red Bull and Ferrari at the Bahrain International Circuit but managed to sneak onto the podium through Lewis Hamilton due to a fortunate turn of events at the end of the race. The 37-year-old was more than 30 seconds behind race leader and eventual winner Charles Leclerc before he was eventually gifted two places when Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were forced to retire after being hit with mechanical problems.

The result in Bahrain only papered over the cracks for Mercedes, though, with the German outfit still not quick enough to challenge for Grand Prix victories on a regular basis as things stand. Wolff has since declared that his team will need to focus on improving the speed of their pit stops as well as clamping down on their performance issues in order to stand any chance of claiming the end-of-season honours ahead of Red Bull and Ferrari.

Mercedes were sluggish in the pit lane on Sunday when compared to Red Bull, who have gained a reputation as F1’s quickest pit-stoppers over the last few seasons. The Austrian outfit set the fastest time of 2021 when they took just 1.88 seconds to change Verstappen’s tyres at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix and were over a second quicker than Mercedes on average over the course of Sunday’s race.

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“That’s still no explanation that we’re not performing there,” Wolff told Motorsport-total.com when quizzed on the efforts of the Mercedes pit crew in Bahrain. “If we want to be at the front, then that has to work too.”

Pit stops are slower across the board in F1 this year due to the new regulations that have been introduced by the FIA with the aim of providing closer racing. The new 18-inch tyres weigh around four kilograms heavier than their predecessors, a change which has increased the length of time it takes for mechanics to replace the wheels.

Wolff also explained after Sunday’s race that Mercedes made the wrong decision to fit hard tyres onto Hamilton’s car for his second stint of the evening. The seven-time champion struggled to find traction on his new set of boots and nearly collected Guanyu Zhou on his way out of the pit lane as he slid across the track at Turn One.

“I think with the soft tyre, on pure pace before the tyre degrades, we are almost there,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1. “Not where Leclerc is, but with the others, but then degradation is too big.

“And then obviously we tried to do something different, but putting the hard [tyre] on was putting the hand in the toilet and it was really a second slower every single lap. Lesson learned, so maybe that 35 seconds [gap] is a bit against us.”

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