Bad news for Mercedes fans? Wolff’s grim timeline to catch Red Bull

Toto Wolff believes it could take Mercedes up to a year to develop a car capable of catching Red Bull.
Bad news for Mercedes fans? Wolff’s grim timeline to catch Red Bull

Wolff conceded before the first race of 2023 that his team’s W14 would need a total rethink of its concept, after Lewis Hamilton’s criticised its competitiveness.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have won the first two grands prix of the new season and, heading into the F1 Australian Grand Prix next weekend, the reigning constructors’ champions look dominant.

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“We’re just two races in this year, but is it realistic [to fight Red Bull] when we look at the gaps? No,” Mercedes team principal Wolff said.

“We just want to give it all we have and then see what the outcome is. 

“We’ve been able to catch up a lot last year with a car that was bouncing way too much in a way was overshadowing everything.  

“Finally we won a race [in Brazil via George Russell] and got closer to them. That needs to be the aspiration.

“I think the length [of time before catching Red Bull] is probably between six and 12 months. 

“That’s the time that it really took for us [last year] to figure out what was actually happening with the car.

“That means we need to have double the development speed, so a stronger development slope. The logic and rationale speaks that for Red Bull, their gains are going to be incrementally smaller if the concept is mature.  

“Aero-wise, and with wind tunnel time, that can help a bit but not hugely. We’ve just got to get our act together and, if we fundamentally understand where we need to put the car, then the steps are going to be large. But we need to be perfect.” 

Hamilton endured a winless 2022 amid Mercedes’ problems with last season’s car and, even before the first race of this year in Bahrain, it was clear that their latest machine wasn’t up to scratch.

Now 38 and with his contract expiring at the end of this year, Hamilton’s future is also at stake as Mercedes plot to return to fighting for championships.

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