Wolff cancels plans to sit out Japanese GP

Apr.3 (GMM) Toto Wolff has cancelled his plans to skip this weekend’s Japanese GP.

For the past few years, as the Formula 1 calendar swelled to bursting point, the Mercedes boss began to sit out certain long-haul events – like Suzuka and Qatar.

But given the team’s failure to give George Russell and the Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton a competitive car for the third consecutive season, Wolff will now trade-in his easier weekend.

Wolff also now admits that his straightforward assessment of the situation, which some have regarded as pessimism, is in need of some tweaking.

“An Austrian says ‘That’s pretty sh*t’,” the 52-year-old is quoted as saying in international publications. “A Brit would say ‘That’s challenging’.

“So I have to adapt my way of communicating so as not to put more pressure on the team. The fact that we are not competitive has nothing to do with a lack of effort,” added Wolff.

He also hails the way Russell, who crashed heavily in the dying moments in Melbourne, and Hamilton who had an engine failure in the very same race, are handling the situation.

“Lewis is as good as you can be,” said Wolff. “On one side it’s super frustrating to see that we are not there, and then he looks over the fence (at Ferrari) and it’s pretty good what’s happening there.

“But that is not his main priority today, and George is just a fighter and is digging in. He knows this is his place and we’ve got to sort this out.”

1978 world champion Mario Andretti has weighed in on the situation at Mercedes, including why Russell seems to be faring better.

“In his career,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport, “Lewis often had cars in which he could win. He didn’t have to get the most out of it, so he made few mistakes.

“George had to constantly fight at Williams because the car was not competitive,” Andretti added. “When he joined Mercedes, he thought he was in paradise but now you see that he has to fight for his position again and again. That’s why he’s standing out against his teammate.

“It will be interesting to see what Lewis will do at Ferrari,” the 84-year-old said, “as his great wish is to end his career there.”

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