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Mercedes to ditch Formula 1 car concept after agreeing with Lewis Hamilton: 'We are not good enough'

"We are absolutely in the same choir," Toto Wolff says of agreeing with Lewis Hamilton that Mercedes need to change their car concept; watch Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix live at 3pm on Sky Sports F1, with build-up from 1.30pm

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Toto Wolff says Mercedes are not where they want to be

Toto Wolff has revealed that Mercedes will ditch this season's car after agreeing with Lewis Hamilton's scathing comments on the concept.

Defending champion Max Verstappen picked up where he left off to take pole position for Sunday's Bahrain GP, which is live on Sky Sports F1 at 3pm, with Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez joining him on the front row.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will start third and fourth for Ferrari, while Fernando Alonso took fifth spot for Aston Martin.

But George Russell and Lewis Hamilton will start only sixth and seventh respectively as the Mercedes men finished more than six tenths behind Verstappen.

On Friday, a gloomy Hamilton said his team are on the "wrong track", had fallen further behind his rivals and questioned whether Mercedes' concept will allow him to compete for a record eighth world championship.

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Despite only qualifying seventh, Lewis Hamilton was positive with the progress Mercedes have made so far in Bahrain and he's optimistic they can close the gap on the frontrunners.

And 24 hours later, team principal Wolff remarkably conceded that the Silver Arrows, the constructor which once dominated the sport, will have to abandon their controversial zero-sidepod concept in order to challenge again.

"We are absolutely in the same choir," Wolff told Sky Sports F1.

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He added to the written media: "I don't think that this package is going to be competitive eventually.

"We gave it our best go over the winter and now we all just need to regroup, sit down with the engineers, be totally non-dogmatic and ask what is the development direction we want to pursue in order to be able to win races.

"We hit our targets. That's why I say we gave it our best shot. But the moment comes when the stopwatch comes out and that showed us that we are not good enough.

"At this team we blame the problem not the person. I have responsibilities. I need to fire myself if I want to do something.

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Sky F1's Ted Kravitz looks back at all the big talking points from qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

"We got it wrong last year. We thought we could fix it by sticking to the concept of car but it didn't work out. So we just need to switch our focus on to what we believe is the right direction."

Mercedes claimed just one victory last season with a machine Hamilton said he could not wait to consign to the history books.

Yet they decided to evolve their concept rather than start from scratch, despite seeing rivals Red Bull adopt a completely different sidepod design to win 17 of last year's 22 rounds.

Verstappen's 21st career pole on Saturday is further proof that his Red Bull machine is the class of the Formula One field.

"You know motor racing is crazy," said Wolff. "I don't know what is going to happen this year. We may find a silver bullet next week and gain five tenths, but I haven't seen any silver bullets before.

"If you look at the pecking order today, you would say that catching Red Bull 'is not realistic'.

"But I'm looking at what we can find next week, what is the change of direction that we can implement and how quickly can we do that? Maybe we can turn the ship around this year but it needs a lot to change the pecking order."

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Nico Rosberg says that Mercedes are in a 'difficult position' after Lewis Hamilton qualified seventh for Bahrain Grand Prix.

Wolff's remarks will come as a major blow to Hamilton, 38, and his quest to take another championship before his career ends.

Hamilton is entering the final season of his £40m-a-year deal but earlier this week he said he has no plans to retire, even if Mercedes fail to deliver him a winning machine.

"If I need to push him around the track to get the eighth I will," said Wolff. "I'm going to do everything that's needed."

Rosberg: Changing concept would be 'backwards step'

Sky Sports F1's Nico Rosberg in Bahrain

"It sounds like they're in a difficult position, in a way maybe they didn't expect.

"They changed the regulations at the end of last year, lifting the floor up. It seems it was disadvantageous again and made it more difficult for them somehow. They are standing in front of a difficult decision.

"If you need to change the concept completely, it's another step backwards to then have a bigger potential gain in the medium term because medium terms is years. It sounds really difficult.

"They were four or five-tenths off in qualifying, which isn't that much. They're still fighters and won't give up all hope.

"They are still the best team in the paddock in terms of competence. I know the people that are there. Toto has done brilliant with succession planning. I think in terms of competence the team is awesome.

"They've been caught out with the new ground effects and new regulations and are still learning the ropes and haven't quite understood it entirely. It takes a bit more time I suppose."

Formula 1 is back! Watch the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Sunday's race begins at 3pm, with build-up from 1.30pm. Get Sky Sports

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