Clock ticking with Mercedes still ‘undecided’ on their F1 2023 concept

·3-min read
Bodywork for Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes W13. Britain July 2022 Credit: PA Images
Bodywork for Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes W13. Britain July 2022 Credit: PA Images

Toto Wolff admits Mercedes are approaching a crossroads for the concept of their 2023 challenger, with discussions ongoing.

Heavily revised regulations were introduced for the 2022 campaign, Mercedes taking a very different approach to rival teams with their W13.

The Silver Arrows’ design was striking, the W13 featuring very unconventional sidepods, termed ‘zero-pods’, with narrow air inlets as they went in search of a ninth Constructors’ Championship in succession.

Mercedes suffered arguably more than most though with porpoising earlier in the season, a bouncing phenomenon associated with ground-effect aerodynamics.

 

 

And even though Mercedes claims to have now eradicated that problem, the team are without a win this season as they lag behind Red Bull and Ferrari for performance.

So, if Mercedes want to make major design changes for their 2023 challenger, then they must start defining a direction.

However, with the budget cap in play, Mercedes knows the reality is that there will be little room for experiments beforehand.

“It’s a very difficult situation because we obviously have a certain concept of a car,” said Mercedes principal Wolff, as per Motorsport.com. “It’s not like we can experiment a lot this year and just simply dial stuff out and test.

“So whatever we decide for next year needs to be carefully evaluated because clearly our data doesn’t give us the results, and doesn’t correlate with the reality. We have massive swings in performance that we can’t really get on top of.

“In this very moment, to take a decision for next year, whatever it may be, like changing the concept dramatically, how can you be sure that that’s the better direction to go because clearly we’ll be starting a little bit way back?

“It’s quite difficult to say what is the concept, is it the chassis in its current shape? What is that? Is it weight distribution? Is it where you can put the mechanical and aero balance? Is it the bodywork concept?

“All these different pillars of the car are evaluated and it could mean that some of that goes and some of that stays? And that’s what we’re looking at at the moment.”

Ferrari principal Mattia Binotto has cast doubt over the FIA’s current ability to police their budget cap, following reports that Red Bull are looking to introduce a new, lighter chassis later in the season.

Most teams find that their challengers are overweight at this stage, Wolff confirming that this is true also for Mercedes, though they would not be able to find room in the budget cap to build a new chassis.

“Look at the chassis…we wouldn’t be able to introduce a chassis at that stage of the season,” Wolff stated.

“We are massively overweight, which we haven’t been really able to dial out because we are trying parts on the car in order to solve our various issues. So we can’t afford that, full stop.

“So what was aimed by introducing the cost cap absolutely hit the target. It is what they wanted: to achieve that the big teams can’t just throw money at it.”

 

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