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Wolff acknowledges Ferrari and Vasseur’s 'deserved' success

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff acknowledged the significance of Ferrari’s win in Australia last weekend, a success deserved for the Scuderia but also for his good friend Fred Vasseur.

Last weekend’s round of racing at Albert Park delivered a surprising turn of events, with Carlos Sainz, still recovering from appendicitis surgery, taking a dominant win from Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc.

Sainz’s triumph was admittedly helped by championship leader Max Verstappen’s early retirement from the race due to a rear brake failure.

The win also marked the first time a driver other than Verstappen had won a race since the Ferrari driver’s victory in Singapore the previous year.

After the race, Wolff expressed his genuine delight with Ferrari’s achievement twelve months on from the Italian outfit’s a disastrous weekend in Melbourne in 2023 and from an even more painful experience for Vasseur back then.

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"First of all, I'm happy for Ferrari," said Wolff. "I'm happy for Fred. He deserves that.

"Last year, we were flying together and on the flight, Dubai to Melbourne [with] Emirates, he had a disc [in his spine] that jumped out and he couldn't sit or sleep. He was standing in the aeroplane for 13 hours.

"Then, one of his cars crashed out and the other one finished P4, and it looked disastrous. He had the pressure for all of Italy and now he's had a 1-2."

This year, it was Mercedes’ turn to drink from the poison chalice, with the Brackley squad suffering a double DNF down under. Lewis Hamilton’s afternoon was done and dusted after just 15 laps due to an engine failure while George Russell crashed out of the race on the penultimate lap while battling Fernando Alonso for sixth place.

"As much as I hate our situation, [Vasseur] deserves that. Ferrari deserves that. And Italy deserves it,” added Wolff.

"Carlos deserves it - after not only the appendix, but also basically being told 'You're not here anymore'. And bang! You can see what some human power can do when it needs to."

Sainz’s success – past and present – has logically put him on Mercedes’ short list of drivers qualified to Hamilton’s plum seat in 2025.

Commenting on Mercedes’ search for the seven-time world champion’s successor, Wolff said there are no “knockout criteria” to dismiss any of the names – Sainz, Verstappen, Fernando Alonso and Andrea Kimi Antonelli – frequently mentioned in connection to the coveted seat.

"The ones that are available or that could be interesting for us, they all have arguments in favour for them…" he said.

"It's a difficult choice because it's not like there are KO criteria for one and everything points to the other one.

"So, I just want to do a step back and just monitor the situation because some of the guys you mentioned [Max, Carlos] may sign for other teams. So, just looking at it."

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