Mercedes to give up on its car concept that is “simply not good enough,” announces Wolff

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A disappointing debut for Mercedes in Bahrain: P6 for George Russell, P7 for Lewis Hamilton, in a Saturday that made Team Principal Toto Wolff rechoice and announce that is time for the team to give up on the current concept and look for new solutions.

“I don’t think this package is going to be competitive eventually,” he told media at the end of qualifying.

“We gave it our best shot all over the winter, and now we just need to all regroup and sit down with the engineers, who are totally not dogmatic about anything.”

“There are no holy cows and we need to decide what is the development direction that we want to pursue, in order to be competitive to win races,” he explained.

Putting things into prospective, what is worrying him the most is the long terms effect it will have.

“It’s not only like last year, where you are scoring many podiums and eventually you get there. I’m sure we can win races this season, but it’s really the mid and long term that we need to look at and which decisions we need to take.”

Last season, with the debut of the new technical regulations, Mercedes had surprised everyone in the paddock with what seemed to be a revolutionary no-sidepod concept.

Instead, despite having made great improvements over the season, it proved to be a disappointing choice for the team, with the W14 having the same gap to the first pole position of the season as 2022.

“We started last year with six tenths and we started this year with six tenths and that is the reality. Our aim, while being humble about it, is to fight for victories and the world championship.”

Something that, at Mercedes, they feel cannot be done continuing to follow this concept.

While it seems rather too soon in the season to change direction, what convinced Wolff to give up on continuing to develop the current concept is that the W14 is exactly as Mercedes expected, not worse – it simply isn’t good enough.

“We hit our targets and that’s why we gave it our best shot,” he explained. “The moment comes when the stopwatch comes out and that showed us that it’s simply not good enough. We haven’t got enough downforce and we need to wait to find solutions to fix that.”

A disappointing performance that is highlighted even more if compared to the impressive jump forward Aston Martin – whose engines are supplied by Mercedes and with whom they share much technologies – has made over the last few months.

“We can only take our hats off for what they achieved,” said Wolff.

“They gained two seconds in half a year and their car is half ours, from the engine, gearbox and rear suspension and using the same wind tunnel. There are a lot of parallels and we need to acknowledge that they have done an outstanding job.”

The Team Principal, however, is confident that down in Brackley they have what it takes to succeed.

“In this team we blame the problem and not the person and at the end I have responsibilities and I’d need to fire myself if I want to do something,” he explained.

“We had all the ingredients to be successful: the people and infrastructure that won eight championships in a row. We got it wrong last year, we thought we could fix it by sticking to this concept of car and it didn’t work out.”

Which means eyes are now set on what can be improved.

“If you look at the pecking order today, you say, well it’s not realistic. But I’m looking at what can we find next week, what can we add to the car? What is the change of direction that we can implement? And how quickly is that, so that maybe we can turn the ship around this year?”

“It’s just first qualifying of 2023, that’s why I don’t want to discount anything for this year, while being totally realistic that it needs to change a lot.”

“We are racers, and we are racing, and we will never give up fighting every single session to be on top,” he concluded.

Photo credits: Mercedes AMG F1