Toto Wolff reveals where Mercedes are planning huge performance gains

Toto Wolff spoke after Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell had a mixed qualifying for the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Toto Wolff has given more details on Mercedes‘ quest to revamp their 2023 Formula 1 car, after they admitted their car concept was a failure even before the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Wolff was talking after qualifying for the Saudi Arabian GP, which again saw mixed success for Mercedes with George Russell fourth but Lewis Hamilton eighth.

Mercedes opted to stick with their radical ‘no sidepods’ design philosophy despite a disappointing 2022 season, but that’s now out of the window and Wolff was asked where Mercedes are focussing their efforts.

“It’s all of the aerodynamic surfaces that are visible from the leading edge all the way to the diffuser, and the beam wing,” Wolff told reporters.

“There’s massive amounts on the floor obviously with a ground effect car and then there’s many more architectural things that are necessary in order to give you the bodywork that you think is most efficient.”

“It’s all of those things, so that’s why I always say it’s so difficult to talk about the concept. It’s literally, the car’s being turned upside down at the moment and there’s a lot of goodness that we see.”

Wolff: Most F1 teams haven’t changed from 2023

2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Friday – LAT Images

There were some bright sparks for Mercedes in Jeddah, with George Russell just a tenth of a second behind Fernando Alonso in qualifying.

The Brit will line up third for the grand prix thanks to Charles Leclerc‘s grid penalty and with Verstappen also starting out of position and Carlos Sainz‘s Ferrari suffering from tyre degradation, he has a genuine shot at the podium.

That’s all change from Bahrain where Hamilton extracted everything out of his Mercedes while Russell looked frustrated with his machinery and finished behind Lance Stroll, who’d rushed back from a cycling injury and hadn’t had any pre-season testing.

However, Hamilton really struggled around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit and could only manage the eighth-fastest time, behind Stroll and Esteban Ocon and just two-hundredths ahead of McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri.

And after Perez secured a comfortable pole position, Wolff was asked to reflect on qualifying.

“I think there’s two teams that made massive steps,” Wolff said. “I was just looking at last year’s qualifying and everyone is pretty much where they were. But Aston Martin and Red Bull just made an unbelievable step forward.

“So we’ve raised the floor edges and caught up some of that but it’s these two, then everybody’s pretty static with their lap times.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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