Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has stated that anything is conceivable as the Silver Arrows consider potential tweaks to increase the car’s performance for the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix.
The Brackley-based team was taken off guard by the new technical regulations early in 2022, with “porpoising,” poor corner handling, tyre warming, and straight-line speed all proving to be major issues for the eight-time constructors’ champions.
At the second pre-season test in Bahrain, Mercedes presented a revised design for the W13 that saw the sidepods almost completely removed, leaving the underbody exposed, while the accompanying extrusion only seemed to exacerbate the bouncing.
The new winglets in Imola helped a little, but a reworked front and rear wing, as well as a much thinner wing beam, seemed to improve the car a little more. However, they were still a long way behind Red Bull and Ferrari in terms of speed.
The Spanish Grand Prix will provide the first opportunity for the teams to compare their current packages to the data collected during the first pre-season test in Barcelona, thus Wolff would rather examine how the current W13 varies from the one used in February before making any major adjustments.
“Well… I wouldn’t discount anything, but we need to give all our people benefit of the doubt,” the Mercedes boss said. “They have produced great race cars in the past and we believe that this is the route to go.”
“Barcelona is definitely going to be a point in time where we are able to correlate with what we saw in February and gather more data.”
“I’m also annoyed about saying the same thing about gathering data and making experiments, but it’s physics and not mystics, and therefore you have to unpick the data.”
Toto Wolff feels that the team’s slimmer sidepods can be a winner, but he argues that the team must figure out how to improve the car’s balance on the straights and in the corners, especially on tracks where more downforce and a lower ride height are required.
“If you walk through the grid, you can see that our floor edges stick out much wider than anybody else’s,” he added. “That gives it a different way, or much more scope, of possible instability.”
“I think that’s where our concept varies. Clearly the Barcelona launch car is much slower on paper, but we need to find out how we can make the current car work predictably for the drivers.”
While the team contemplates on a new design for Spain, Wolff emphasises that if they ride it out with what they have, they can acquire critical knowledge and take a step toward solving their problems.
“I think we are still committed to the current concept and you need to be,” he said. “If you don’t believe, and you give the other one a 50 per cent chance, then you’ve got to switch now.”
“We are faithful to the current concept… We are not looking at the lady next door to see if we like it more or not, It’s still good.”
“As a matter of fact, we need to understand, before you make a decision to switch to another concept, where did one go wrong.”
“And what is the goodness of the concept and what is the badness of the concept? That is a question you can only respond to yourself.”
He affirms that the Silver Arrows will be able to select the best course of action following the race in Spain in just a week’s time.
Mercedes’ performance in Miami appeared to be better than in Imola, but George Russell’s fifth place and Lewis Hamilton’s sixth place highlighted the gap between them and Ferrari and Red Bull.