After making a poor start to the 2023 F1 season, Mercedes have accepted they need to abandon their unconventional sidepod concept in order to cut the huge deficit to Red Bull and return to the front of the grid. 

Why Mercedes car concept needs to CHANGE

Wolff hinted at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix that Mercedes’ flawed W14 car will look “very different” in five-to-seven races’ time and confirmed the team was now focused on “one design philosophy”. 

The admission has led to speculation that Mercedes are developing a replica version of the sidepod design that features on Red Bull’s dominant RB19, or Aston Martin’s AMR23. 

Asked if that is Mercedes’ plan, Wolff joked to Sky: “I don’t know, you can call it [a] Red Bull or Aston Martin concept, [but] at the end, if it looks like an English double-decker bus, we would do it if it was fast.” 

He added: “Put a little sticker, Red Bull, if they want to have it on. 

“It’s just about raw performance. We have no dogma on who invented it.”

Pressed on how long it will be before the modified W14 is introduced, Wolff replied: “We are making big elephant steps. It will be a long time before it’s adequate to challenge Red Bull, but it’s a super fun journey to climb back.”

Wolff insisted Mercedes are working “flat-out” to reduce the gap to Red Bull. 

“The question is, what is your benchmark? If you look at the Red Bulls, they’re just so quick, that I think we understand the car more is what I meant,” he explained. 

“I’m looking optimistic in the future because we just need to put it in a different window. We’re changing the bodywork of the car, how the floor works, all of these things mechanically.

“We’re looking at certain areas, and the team in Brackley is just flat-out and that is really nice to see that we can monetise on the Sundays on that.”

And Wolff does not believe Mercedes’ recovery bid will be hamstrung by the F1 cost cap

“It’s not such a big problem because we are not developing two different concepts because we’re not quite sure,” he said. 

“We are going one direction fully committed, so that doesn’t change anything. 

“Obviously if you are one second behind, it’s a long way to catch up. But we are banking on that logic, let’s see what the reality will show.”