Toto Wolff confirms Mercedes’ worst fears as old car issue returns at 2023 Belgian GP

Mercedes were well-beaten by Ferrari at the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix despite their new upgrades

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Toto Wolff painted a bleak picture for Mercedes as they enter the summer break on the back of a disappointing 2023 Belgian Grand Prix weekend.

Lewis Hamilton finished fourth and George Russell sixth in the grand prix after the team picked up just three points in the Saturday sprint.

Mercedes were comfortably beaten by Ferrari despite newly upgraded sidepods on the W14, and an old foe was responsible for much of their pain through the weekend.

“I’ve seen the data and spoken to the drivers, the main limiting factor today and yesterday was bouncing,” Wolff told the media. “The car is just bouncing literally on every street and we’ve got to get on top of it.

“Even Blanchimont was a corner that Lewis had to lift, which is an easy flat normally. And you’re bouncing on the straight, you overheat the tires on the braking so that’s a vicious circle and was the main limiting factor this weekend.

“It’s frustrating to check out for the holidays like this. But tomorrow and after tomorrow, we’re going to understand more based on the data.”

Toto Wolff looks on at the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix | Jiri Krenek / Mercedes

It’s now four weeks until Formula 1 returns from the summer break, and teams must shut down their facilities for a fortnight during that time.

Porpoising sideswiped Mercedes in 2022 as they struggled to find a raceable balance for their radical ‘zero sidepods’ car, but they’d seemingly managed to eliminate the problem from the W14.

Did the new upgrades cause the porpoising?

Wolff was coy on the success – or otherwise – of MercedesSpa upgrades. The team took a giant step forward when their development package hit the car in Monaco and they were hoping for a similar, if slightly smaller, improvement in Belgium.

However, McLaren looked faster for most of the weekend before fading in the grand prix while Ferrari had no such dropoff and Charles Leclerc leapfrogged George Russell in the drivers’ championship.

“We’ve got to analyze it, there’s so much hard work going on to deliver that upgrade, you’ve got to take your hat off,” Wolff added. “I think the floor could have been a reason why we’ve been bouncing, but we’re going to see it in the data and maybe there’s something we need to fine-tune.

“Because I still believe that the direction that we’re going now is the right one.”

Where is the next F1 2023 race?

F1 will return from its summer break with the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix from Zandvoort on August 25-27, where championship leader Max Verstappen will be racing on home soil.

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