"We just try to make the best of it": Mercedes boss does not expect to challenge Max Verstappen who is 'in a league of his own'
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff explained how, despite getting a good result in the 2023 F1 Australian GP qualifying session, they won't be able to beat Max Verstappen.
George Russell drove an amazing lap around Albert Park to stick himself in the front row behind Verstappen, while Hamilton placed himself in third. After a tough start to the season, the qualifying results are a much-needed respite for the Mercedes camp.
Speaking to the media, Wolff praised his team for working hard during the qualifying session and deciding when to push for the lap, saying:
"We just got it together now over the weekend. We just grinded away with putting performance on the car in terms of, you know, mechanical set-up. I think we learnt through the session. We've been open minded, and we changed the plan from a third or fourth push lap, to the second. We only had one prep lap and it was okay."
Though Toto Wolff is happy with where Russell and Hamilton are starting on Sunday, he is well aware of how strong Max Verstappen is. He stated that the team will simply try to get the most out of the race and not keep their focus on battling the reigning world champion just yet. He concluded:
"Good starting second and third. It's been a while that we never had someone infront of our line in P2. So, we just try to make the best of it, because Verstappen is in a league of his own and then we can slot in."
Even though Mercedes are back near the podium positions in the qualifying sessions, their race pace will determine where they finish and if they are able to catch Max Verstappen.
Max Verstappen not a fan of new race weekend formats being introduced
After F1's CEO Stefano Domenicali expressed how he is in favor of removing or reducing practice sessions, Max Verstappen spoke against the idea. He stated his opinion of how the new formats, like sprint races, and the idea of no practice will change the F1 DNA. He said (via Motorsport Italy):
“I don't think [Domenicali] meant exactly that [removing free practice sessions[, because obviously you can't go to qualifying without free practice. But I'm not a fan of weekends with sprints, I'm not a fan of the number of races we do nowadays.”
"I'm also not a fan of changing the whole format [without practice sessions]. They have to be careful not to change the entire DNA of Formula 1. I think it's important not to play too much with this aspect, because then, obviously, at a certain point everything stops.”
Since the very beginning, Max Verstappen has always supported the traditional race weekend schedule of three practice sessions, one qualifying session, and one main race.