Toto Wolff confirms Mercedes will abandon current car concept

The Mercedes team principal has admitted shortcomings in design direction


After a disappointing start to the 2023 F1 season, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has admitted the team will be looking at a new design concept, effectively abandoning their slim-sidepod design, in order to compete for titles in Formula 1.

Mercedes are still lagging behind Red Bull and Ferrari, while Aston Martin now looking stronger than the Silver Arrows. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell qualified in sixth and seventh for the Bahrain GP, respectively. 

“I don’t think there’s this package is gonna be competitive eventually,” Wolff told reporters after 2023 Bahrain GP qualifying. “And we gave a bit our best goal over the winter. 

“Now we just need to regroup, sit down with the engineers who are totally not dogmatic about anything, there is no holy cause, and decide what is the development direction that we want to pursue in order to be competitive to win races

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

Lap times the driver

Wolff also admitted that despite hitting their winter testing targets, ultimately the times on track mean a change in direction is needed at Mercedes

“We hit our targets, and that’s why we gave it our best shot,” Wolff went on. “And the moment comes when the stopwatch comes out, that showed us that it’s simply not good enough. 

“We never got enough downforce. And we need to we need to find solutions to to fix that. We got it wrong last year, we thought we can fix it while sticking to this concept of car and it didn’t work out

“So we just need to switch our focus on to what we believe can be the right direction. What is it where we are missing and therefore those data points this weekend very important. 

“We’ve seen all the GPS where we are lacking performance and we’ve seen where we are good, and so we just need to sort out what that is and whether this is sticking by the sidepods on the car or the really subtle things that bring performance

“This is a different question. But definitely we will within the group embark on untreaded [sic] paths.”

John Smith
John Smith
Editor at and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
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