F1 must seek answers after “boring” Baku F1 race, says Wolff

Formula 1 needs to shift attention away from format tweaks and focus on improvements to make the racing less boring, says Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. 

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix was dominated by talk over the new sprint timetable and debate about whether or not it risked taking attention away from the main race on Sunday. 

However, a lack of action in the grand prix itself has highlighted that the current generation of cars are not delivering the kind of spectacle hoped for when new rules were introduced from 2022. 

Wolff believed that Baku’s lack of excitement was enough for F1 and the teams to consider looking into what elements were not working with the current rules. 

“Today wasn’t a thriller,” said Wolff after the Baku race. “Just no overtaking, even with a big pace difference. It made it not great entertainment.  

“We have to analyse the weekend with the sprint format, where there are positives that we can take out, but in the end it all comes down to racing.  

“It needs the tough battles, and I think the highlight yesterday [in the sprint] was George [Russell] and Max [Verstappen] being able to battle it out. There was none of that today.  

“Even if you are within 0.2 of a second, it is very difficult to overtake, nearly impossible to overtake, unless the other driver makes a mistake.  

“We need to really look at it and how we can avoid a boring race.”  

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

While Wolff suggested that the FIA’s decision to shorten the DRS zone made a small difference in not helping overtaking, there is growing consensus among drivers that the 2023 cars are harder to follow each other than last year’s. 

Azerbaijan GP race winner Sergio Perez said: “I feel these cars are generating a bit more downforce, and by generating that little more downforce, the car behind struggles a little bit more to follow. 

“In my opinion, it wasn’t the right thing to shorten up the DRS, because it's getting harder to overtake than last year already in itself, so it's something we should review.” 

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But while the new era cars may not be delivering all that had been hoped for when F1 and the FIA pushed through the regulations, Wolff does not think grand prix racing needs to embark on an all-new rule set. 

“I think after a race weekend like this we must not talk it down overall, and say that is the wrong direction and we need to change completely,” he said. 

“It is more about understanding why was it not so entertaining. We had two cars that are sailing into the sunset on merit and then there’s a 20-second gap, and I wouldn’t know today between Aston Martin, Ferrari and us who is quicker. You are stuck where you are stuck and that is pretty much it.  

“For us, it is about finding more data sets in the next races, see how this is going to develop and then maybe we need to adjust.”  

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