Mercedes has made a disappointing start to the 2023 Formula 1 season after seeing its eight-year run of constructors’ titles end in 2022; Watch the final practice of the Saudi Arabian GP live Saturday at 1:30pm on Sky Sports F1
7:36 AM UK Saturday 18 March 2023
Toto Wolff says Mercedes’ W14 car will look “very different” in five to seven races after confirming the team is now focusing on “one design philosophy”.
After being surprised by the introduction of new design rules last season and seeing Red Bull end its run of eight consecutive constructors’ titles, Mercedes opted to retain the same design philosophy for the 2023 Formula 1 season.
However, a poor showing at the season-opening Grand Prix in Bahrain in early March led Wolff to admit that the team had been wrong and would take a different path, with speculation surrounding an alternative ‘Plan B’ car design. ‘.
speaking exclusively to sky sports f1 Following Friday practice at this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Wolff provided an update on the team’s plans for the coming weeks.
He said: “The question is what do you mean by a Plan B car?
“I think the car will look very different in five, six or seven races depending on the decisions we’ve made and the direction of development we’ve embarked on.
As well as pulling away from sweeping new 2022 regulations, Wolff says Mercedes’ ability to recover from its mistakes has been curtailed by the sport’s cost cap, which was implemented in 2021.
“We all voted for the cost cap to be implemented in order to establish a more level playing field,” Wolff said.
“It bit us, that’s clear at this stage, but I don’t want to ever say that the cost cap doesn’t allow us to recover; it’s harder, but we just have to do it.”
“The moment we decide what we’ve done, which direction to go, where we want to have the car, we just go to work and push hard with that design philosophy.”
“Lauda would like us to copy the design of other cars”
Neither Wolff nor Mercedes’ British driver pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have provided any details on how the W14 will be modified, but the team boss seemed to hint that he thinks moving towards Red’s pace-setting RB19 design Bull is the “simple ” option.
Wolff was asked what former Mercedes chairman and three-time F1 world champion Niki Lauda, who played a crucial role in establishing the team as the sport’s dominant force before his death in 2019, would have advised. your current situation.
“I miss him a lot, but I miss him mostly as a friend,” Wolff said. “We all miss him as president.
“For Niki it would have been very simple, because simplicity is what leads you to the best decision and I know exactly what he would have said.
“‘Our car looks very different, let’s make it like the others and optimize it. We have a great team, we have great technology and infrastructure, we can do much better than the others, so why don’t we get to work? with that?
“Things are always very simple. You can always eliminate all the bullshit and ultimately the simple decisions in life, which are very often knee-jerk decisions added together with data to back them up, and that’s how Niki operated. I didn’t do. overcomplicate things, get the basics right.”
‘There is a lot to learn from Aston Martin’
While Mercedes had hoped to start the season behind reigning world champion Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, being beaten by Aston Martin in Bahrain came as a huge surprise.
Mercedes supplies significant parts of Aston Martin’s car, which propelled Fernando Alonso to third behind the Red Bulls in Bahrain, making its impressive early season performance all the more damning for Wolff’s team.
Alonso’s second place in second practice in Saudi Arabia on Friday suggests Bahrain won’t be an isolated thing, but Wolff is trying to take the positives and says he’s happy to see his friend and Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll enjoying success.
“Why it helps us, they have the whole rear of our car, the suspension, the engines, the gearbox, all of that stuff, so we know there are areas that are really good, that we shouldn’t question too much,” Wolff said.
“But it’s other areas where the cars are fundamentally different that we need to focus on, there’s a lot to learn.”
“Lawrence has been through so many difficult years, and now the team is on the rise, they’re successful, so it’s up to us to learn and not the other way around like it was for many years.”
Formula 1 street racing is back! Watch the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Saturday qualifying and Sunday’s race are live at 5pm Get Sky Sports
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