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Toto's Mid-Season Q&A: Talking F1 2023 So Far

The first half of the 2023 Formula One season has officially wrapped. All 10 F1 teams are now into the mandatory two-week summer shutdown period.

It's been an intense run of races for everyone in F1 - both trackside and at the factories - with 12 Grands Prix in the space of five months.

The shutdown provides a welcome chance to pause and reflect on what's happened and look ahead to the rest of the year.

We sat down with Toto to talk through the season so far. Take a read!

How would you summarise the season so far?

TW: "Our season really didn't start well in Bahrain, but I think over the last races we've been able to understand the car better, keep on learning and finding improvements. The race for P2 is tight between Aston Martin, Ferrari, McLaren and us. It's going to be an intense battle to the end of the season. Our objective is always to be fighting for championships, not for second place. But we're racers and we will enjoy the challenge. Our focus is on what we need to be winning races and championships again. One helps the other, so we will be concentrating on how we can improve our understanding of the car, and how we operate as a Team, in the second half of this season."

What do you think have been the positives?

TW: "The positives are that we clearly see some development route that functions. We understand where we need to add performance. It's a frustrating process because it takes time to fundamentally change a car when you decide on a different development direction. And it takes a huge amount of work from everyone involved to get the car in a better place. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. It's also been a positive season so far from a Power Unit perspective, everyone at Mercedes-AMG HPP has worked hard and done a great job giving us a Power Unit that's at the top of the pack."

There is light at the end of the tunnel

Toto Wolff

And what could have gone better for the team?

TW: "We need to give the drivers a more reliable car and platform when it comes to the balance and feeling. It's not about absolute downforce but it's for them to know that the car is going to be stable when they turn into the corner. That isn't the case for now. It is a big focus for us, as it will give the drivers more confidence and with that will come more performance."

How important is the collaboration between the Team at Brackley and HPP in Brixworth?

TW: "The collaboration is critical. The teamwork between the two factories is stronger than ever. That's why it's been a strong season so far from a Power Unit perspective. The hardware freeze last year, and this year's software freeze, has limited the scope in which to work. That hasn't deterred everyone working there though and we've seen fantastic reliability combined with great performance and delivery. That is also true for the customer teams. To varying degrees, they've all enjoyed positive first halves to the season and that is testament to the work of HPP."

How have Lewis and George found the season so far?

TW: "Both drivers did a really good job in coping with the ups and downs and the driveability of the car. They've managed to work around the challenges we've had with the car very well, very professionally, always looking forward to how we can increase performance and maximising the car with every opportunity."

And how is Mick settling into the Team?

TW: "Mick is such a great guy. He is not only a good racing driver, but he has all the right values in place and he has been helping the performance of the car and the drivers by the overnight work he is doing in the simulator from Friday to Saturday. It's making a real difference out on track."

How have our off-track projects been progressing?

TW: "There are lots of off-track projects that are making strong progress. We are working strongly on sustainability and are really being trailblazers in the industry. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is something that I am very proud of when you look at our company. Our efforts in these areas are bringing performance and giving opportunities. I am happy with the direction we are going in and we have a lot of exciting plans in this area in the future."

What's our focus going forward?

TW: "The sails are set for 2024 now. We still have some updates to come with W14, but I find focus switching to next year good, because there is so much we can optimise on the current car without looking too much into upgrades. Let's see how we can get it into more of a sweet spot while gaining lots of understanding for next year. As the more learnings we can find, the better placed we will be for 2024 and beyond."

The more learnings we can find, the better placed we will be for 2024 and beyond

Toto Wolff

What does the fan support mean to the team?

TW: "It's always great to see the fan support. Even when the car is not at its best, we have fans that support us, and we don't see a lot of negativity. They cheer for us, suffer with us and that inspires us. Hopefully we will be coming back to the days where we can give them lots to celebrate."

Read more about the technical side of our season and how we've developed the W14.