Wolff offers bleak prediction for Mercedes

Toto Wolff does not believe the Mercedes W14 concept will ever be competitive

Toto Wolff does not believe the Mercedes W14 concept will ever be competitive

Toto Wolff has painted a bleak picture of Mercedes’ chances during the 2023 Formula 1 season.

The Brackley operation appears to have landed as the fourth-best team behind Red Bull, Ferrari, and Aston Martin after pre-season testing.

That was reinforced in qualifying in Bahrain on Saturday where George Russell was sixth and Lewis Hamilton was seventh.

Earlier in the weekend, the team’s technical director Mike Elliot suggested he remained unconvinced by the concept surrounding the sidepod design on the W14, while Hamilton was also critical of the 2023 car.

“I don’t think that this package is going to be competitive eventually,” Wolff told the media, including Speedcafe.com, on Saturday evening.

“We gave it our best go and now we just need to regroup, sit down with the engineers who are totally not dogmatic about anything – there is no holy cows – and decide what is the development direction that we want to pursue.

“It’s not only, like last year that you score 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.”

The Mercedes W14 hit its development targets but lacks overall aerodynamic load versus its rivals.

GPS traces show the car is competitive down the straights, but through Bahrain’s Turn 5-7 complex, it is found wanting.

Wolff reasoned it’s not a mechanical issue as Aston Martin, which buys its powertrain and rear suspension from Mercedes, was more competitive than the factory squad.

Mercedes has development parts in the works, including a new sidepod design, but he isn’t holding out hope that they’ll transform the team’s fortunes.

“You know, motor racing is crazy; I don’t know what’s going to happen this year,” he said.

“We may find the silver bullet next week and unlock five tenths in the car.

“I haven’t seen that before, but you never know.

“But definitely mid-term and long-term, we just need to have a car that is able to make us fight for an eighth world championship [for Lewis Hamilton].”

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