Just 93 days ago, the curtain came down on the 2023 Formula One season in Abu Dhabi. A winter of hard work, dedication, and planning has followed and with testing now over we can finally say the words we’ve been waiting to hear for nearly three months: It’s race week.

Before lights out in Bahrain, we caught up with Toto as the team prepares itself for the longest calendar in Formula One history. More races means more action and more gripping storylines, a fact not lost on Toto.

“A new season brings new opportunity and it’s exciting to be heading into a new campaign with all the drama it will inevitably bring,” he said.

While that drama will undoubtedly create the unpredictability for fans up and down the paddock, the aims for our W15 could not be more different.

“Our main aim going into 2024 therefore is clear: create a consistent and stable platform,” Toto added.

“A car that would react as we expected. One that the drivers could consistently push. And one that we can develop throughout the year, in the knowledge that we are bringing real-world performance to the track.”

As is so often the case, though, that is easier said than done. Nevertheless, a huge amount of effort has gone into creating that platform over the past 12 months. So how did things look in testing?

“After pre-season testing, we can draw some initial conclusions,” Toto said.

“The drivers are much happier with the overall balance. The basic platform is working as we expected. The correlation to our simulations looks to be accurate. This is all encouraging. It’s a good foundation that we can build on. Over these first two races, we will get a much better understanding of the job we have done.”

And that’s exactly why you can never draw too many conclusions from testing. Every team would have turned up with different goals, aiming to achieve different outcomes.

“Our focus at the test was on learning about the car we have. Our attention can now turn to tuning performance for the Bahrain race weekend.

“Red Bull, as is to be expected, look to be at the head of the field. The chasing pack looks tight. We will soon get an idea of where we stack up in that. And the task that is ahead of us to close the gap to the front.”

That task won’t be easy, and we know it. Toto knows he can rely on a dedicated and hungry team, that will do everything it can to get the best possible result every weekend.

“Wherever we net out, the whole team is relishing the challenge ahead.

“There is a palpable sense of energy running through the factories and those trackside. The year ahead is long. There will be many ups, along with the inevitable downs. But this is why we love racing. And now, we can’t wait to get going.”

We certainly can’t. Roll on race day.

Source and more info : Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team