Toto Wolff makes Mercedes U-turn ahead of Japanese Grand Prix amid Lewis Hamilton struggles

Toto Wolff makes Mercedes U-turn ahead of Japanese Grand Prix amid Lewis Hamilton struggles

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Lewis Winter

By Lewis Winter

Published: 02/04/2024

- 16:47

The long-serving team principal will now be present in Japan this week

Toto Wolff has cancelled his plan to miss this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix amid Mercedes' difficult start to the F1 season.

The Silver Arrows' team principal was set to be absent at the Suzuka Circuit but has now reversed his decision.

Mercedes had big hopes heading into the 2024 campaign, which will be Lewis Hamilton's last with the team before he joins Ferrari.

But the early signs are not good after just three races and any hopes of a World Championship win look extremely far-fetched already.

Toto Wolff

Toto Wolff has reversed his decision to miss the Japanese Grand Prix


Hamilton finished seventh and ninth in the first two races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, while team-mate George Russell recorded fifth and sixth-placed finishes.

It was a nightmare last time out for Mercedes when both Hamilton and Russell did not finish the race.

Hamilton had engine failure, while his fellow Brit crashed out on the final lap in Melbourne.

Team principal Wolff had already planned before the season that he would miss the next Grand Prix in Japan this weekend.

However, Sky Sports says he has now U-turned on that decision and will be in Suzuka for the fourth race of the season.

Wolff will be hoping his presence can help make a difference in Mercedes' fortunes on the track.

They currently sit fourth in the constructors' standings, a huge 72 points behind Red Bull.

Mercedes have only won one race in the last two seasons when Russell triumphed at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

Wolff admitted his disappointment after the last race in Australia and said he had hoped off-season improvements would have made a difference.

He said: "Tough to take, super tough. I would be lying if I said at any moment I felt positive about the situation and optimistic.

"You just need to overcome the negative thoughts and say, 'we will turn this around'. Today it feels very, very brutal.

"We started this season in the belief that this car was better than last year.


Toto Wolff

Toto Wolff will be in Japan amid Mercedes' struggles on the track


"Then you look at last year [in Australia] where [Charles] Leclerc crashed out and [Carlos] Sainz was fourth on the road, McLaren were 17th, 18th or 19th and now they are 40 seconds ahead of us.

"On one side, I want to punch myself on the nose. On the other side, it's a testimony that when you get things right, you can turn it around pretty quickly and continue to believe. At the moment, it's a very tough time."

Wolff was also quizzed over his own future at Mercedes following a difficult couple of years.

But the 52-year-old, who owns a 33 per cent stake in the team, says it is not possible for him to leave.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has had a difficult start to his final season at Mercedes


Wolff added: "The big difference is it's not like the manager question in terms of, this is my job, I'll stop the job and then somebody else is doing the job and I'll go to Chelsea or to Liverpool, or over to Ferrari.

"I haven't got that choice, which is also unfortunate. I'm not a contractor or employee that says, 'I've had enough of this'.

"My hamster wheel keeps spinning and I can't jump out."

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