Wolff: “I don’t think this package is going to be competitive eventually”

© Jiri Krenek for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Toto Wolff says Mercedes gave its car concept “our best go over the winter”, and now it’s time to “decide what is the development direction that we want to pursue”.

There has been a lot of talk about Mercedes’ innovative ‘zero sidepods’ concept last year, but it ultimately failed to produce results that the team wanted.

Despite this, Mercedes decided to stick with the philosophy for 2023 too, but after a disappointing Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying, team boss Toto Wolff says it might be time to change direction.

“I don’t think this package is going to be competitive eventually,” the Austrian said.

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

“It is not like last year when you score many podiums and eventually you get there. I’m sure that we can win races this season, but it’s the mid and long term that we need to look at and which decisions we need to make.

“We hit our targets. We hit our targets and that’s why we gave it our best shot. The moment comes when the stopwatch comes out and that showed us that we are not good enough and we have not got enough downforce.

“We have to find solutions to fix that.”

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As for Mercedes’ structure and personnel, Wolff believes the right pieces are in the right place to be successful again.

“In this team we blame the problem and not the person, and at the end I have responsibilities and I’d need to fire myself if I want to do something.

“So, we had all the ingredients to be successful – the people and infrastructure that won eight championships in a row.

“We got it wrong last year, we thought we could fix it by sticking to this concept of car and it didn’t work out.

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

“We have seen on the GPS where we are lacking performance and we have seen where we are good, and we just need to sort out what that is and whether that is sticking bigger sidepods on the car or really subtle things that bring performance is a different question.

“Definitely within the group we will embark on untrodden paths,” Wolff concluded.

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