Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff concedes that it is “physically not possible” for his team to switch to a high-rake concept pioneered by rivals Red Bull.

Wolff confirmed early suspicions from pre-season testing in Bahrain that the aerodynamic rule changes introduced for 2021 to reduce downforce and slow the cars down have appeared to penalise the teams running a lower-rake concept.

Mercedes has traditionally run its car at a low-rake - meaning its car is closer to the ground - and speaking ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday, Wolff revealed that the team’s analysis shows that cars running higher-rake concepts have lost less downforce over the winter.

“We probably suffered more with the change of regulations than the cars with the higher rake, and Red Bull has followed that concept since many years,” Wolff said.

“It has been maybe more difficult for us to recover some of the lost downforce but so far from what I have seen and hope is that we can have a really tough fight. This is what the fans want to see, and what we would like to have.

“Red Bull is a formidable team, with people pushing really hard. They have one for championships before the hybrid power units came in, and no doubt they are the strongest competitor.”

Mercedes endured a troubled pre-season test that was hampered by reliability gremlins and instability issues with the rear-end of its updated W12 challenger.

The reigning world champion squad believes that a combination of running a lower-rake, along with new tyre constructions for 2021, has prevented the team from getting a full understanding of how to maximise its latest F1 car. 

And Wolff confirmed that Mercedes is now stuck with its rake approach and will simply need to get the “best out of it” throughout the 2021 season.

“In the last year of these regulations, we wouldn’t be able to replicate the concept that Red Bull and some of the other teams have been racing,” he explained.

"It’s physically not possible, we couldn’t run our suspensions and setting in the way that Red Bull does.

“So we need to do the best out of it and tune the car with what we have available.”

 

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