July 12, 2024

Wolff interview: The plan Mercedes hopes will be enough to defeat Red Bull

The head of Mercedes engaged in discussions with a selected group of media, including RacingNews365, outlining the team’s strategy to overcome its performance lag behind Red Bull. The once prestigious Mercedes Formula 1 empire appears worn and battered in the wake of the second season of the ground effects era in 2023.

Mercedes faced a blow to its pride with the flawed 2022 W13 and its zero sidepods concept, but despite this setback, the team secured a victory in Sao Paulo. There was optimism that the struggles were a temporary hiccup due to rule changes, and normalcy would resume in 2023.

However, reality proved harsh as F1’s newest contender to Max Verstappen, winning 19 out of 22 races, dominated, with Red Bull claiming victory in 21 of them. Mercedes experienced its first winless season since 2011, and with only eight podium finishes, it marked the team’s lowest return since 2012.

Max Verstappen: F1 – Red Bull Athlete Profile

The unconventional zero sidepods concept was discarded in favor of a more conventional design in Monaco. This redesign sets the foundation for the 2024 W15, aiming to reclaim titles from Red Bull.

Toto Wolff, the team boss, acknowledged the challenges faced by Mercedes, emphasizing the sport’s commercial success but admitting the sporting side has been tough. Despite improvements and positive results in virtual testing, caution is advised in managing expectations for the upcoming season.

Wolff discussed the prospect of catching up to Red Bull, drawing parallels with Mercedes’ dominance from 2014 to 2021. Red Bull, now in a similar position, can focus on developing next year’s car early, posing a challenge for competitors. Wolff highlighted the laws of diminishing returns in development, emphasizing the importance of gaining an early advantage in the development cycle.

Red Bull’s early start on the 2024 car, coupled with a matured ground effects rule, may limit its development pool. Wolff acknowledged Red Bull’s engineering excellence and a driver at the top of his game, recognizing the challenges faced by Mercedes in closing the gap in the fiercely competitive world of Formula 1.

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