Japanese GP 2024: Toto Wolff Misses Out on Suzuka for a Third Year in a Row Amidst Mercedes Struggles

Mercedes is in trouble and Toto Wolff is at the center of it. The team is facing a challenging period marked by disappointing performances in the championship. This season represents the most difficult period of Wolff’s management tenure, which began in 2013. However, the disappointing performance over time has made it difficult to watch Mercedes struggle.

Mercedes’ repeated technical shortcomings with the car over the past three years have resulted in significant setbacks. These errors have not only cost the team valuable time but have also led to the departure of key engineers to rival competitors. Consequently, the Silver Arrows have lost its leadership position in Formula 1 because of these ongoing challenges. And a recent report has stated that Toto Wolff might not be there for the next event in Japan.

Toto Wolff will yet again not be at Suzuka

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Toto Wolff, the boss of the Mercedes Formula 1 team, will not be attending the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka scheduled for the weekend of April 5-7, 2024. According to the Independent, this absence is pre-planned and not related to Mercedes’ performance in the championship as they state. But with the way the team is performing, no boss would want to be there to witness that.

via Imago

Despite not physically attending the race in Suzuka, Wolff will remain connected remotely throughout the entire race weekend. His responsibilities at the circuit will be delegated to senior members of the Brackley team who will be present on-site.

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Interestingly, this marks the third consecutive year that Toto Wolff has skipped the Japanese Grand Prix. In 2023, his absence was due to a knee operation, and it’s noted that the same event forced him to miss the race in Qatar as well. While Jérôme d’Ambrosio replaced Wolff in 2023, there’s uncertainty about whether the same will happen this year, especially considering d’Ambrosio’s potential departure from the team at the end of the year.

This period of difficulty has led Toto Wolff to question his role within the team for the first time. However, given his dual roles as team principal and shareholder, stepping away would be a tough decision for him. However, this is not the only issue the team boss is currently facing as the situation with the W15 is creating friction between him and Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff are on different frequencies about the W15

Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff seem to have conflicting views on the potential of their 2024 F1 car. Hamilton, who is set to move to Ferrari next year, appears disillusioned with Mercedes’ current car. He believes it suffers from similar handling issues as the previous year’s models, particularly concerning rear-end instability. Toto Wolff maintains optimism regarding the potential of their 2024 car. Despite the ongoing performance issues, he believes they can still address the shortcomings and improve the car’s competitiveness relative to Red Bull Racing, their main rival.

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via Imago

But on the other hand, this is what Lewis Hamilton had to say, “Yeah, anyone not in a Red Bull is not going to win this year’s World Championship.” The 7-time world champion acknowledged the difference between the RB20 and all other cars on the grid and noted how if it is anyone who will win the championship it would be Max Verstappen or Sergio Perez.

He added, “It’s an illusion to get closer to Red Bull in the short term, but I still have to believe there is more in this car.” By now, it’s clear that Lewis Hamilton is done with Mercedes and hopes to have a much better experience with Ferrari. While Toto Wolf stays home and fixes this, hopefully, the following races will go better for the team.

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Once the setup efficiency is maximized, there is a good chance that Mercedes can do better than they are right now. Although Lewis Hamilton is far behind in points, George Russell is pushing the team. With the way they are progressing, do you think Mercedes has a shot at beating Ferrari and McLaren? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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