Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has said both bases at Brackley and Brixworth are working at a “fast pace” to bring upgrades to the W14, and revealed they will be “consistently” bringing new parts to the car over the coming races.
Formula 1 is currently on an unplanned four-week hiatus following the cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix, but the restart of the schedule in Azerbaijan late April will begin a hectic run of 10 races in 14 weeks as the season settles into more of a rhythm.
With three rounds under their belts, Mercedes, like the rest of the field, hold a pace deficit to Red Bull – with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez looking comfortably faster than the chasing pack in race trim in particular and taking all three wins between them so far in 2023.
But despite the gap the team currently face, the Mercedes team boss says he has identified where they need to change the car in order to improve it – having previously hinted at significant changes to the car concept in the early rounds.
“In terms of car development, it is encouraging to see that within three races, we understand the car much better, we have defined a clear direction where we need to go and I believe we are on the right trajectory,” Wolff said in an interview with Mercedes’ official website.
“We need to consolidate our understanding and hopefully over the next few races we can make another step.
“It’s also important to keep on track and not oscillate too much between exuberance and depression; to stay rational and believe in our trajectory, believe in the capability of the team.
“There will be setbacks but there will also be upgrades and plenty of work that will help us get closer to the front.
“The machine is continuing to run in Brixworth and Brackley at a fast pace. What you see on track is only the tip of the iceberg, but the performance of the car and power unit is made in these two factories.
“The mindset is great, the spirit is there and I see a lot of buzz. I believe 100 percent in our organisation, because our perspective is not always on a single race weekend, not even a single season.
“It’s on trying to build our capability so we are successful over multiple years, while recognising the fact you are never going to win every single season, because no sports team has ever done it.”
Regarding their gap to Red Bull, however, Wolff acknowledged there is plenty that needs to be done at Mercedes if they are to reel in the reigning World Champions, needing to out-develop them over the course of the year if they are to close the gap to the front.
He trusts in his team to do so, but he knows it will be a longer process than just over one race weekend.
“We understand the knowledge that we need to recover,” Wolff said.
“We need to have a steeper development curve than Red Bull and fundamentally, we want to compete for race wins. They are setting the benchmark now.
“We trust in the process and in the people, and there will be setbacks. But if the trajectory is up, that’s where we want to be heading.”
With a busy schedule coming up for the teams and a lot of racing to be done before the summer break starts at the end of July, Wolff said Mercedes will be bringing upgrades bit by bit to the W14 as the rounds go along with the Austrian admitting there is no “magic bullet” that will put them on Red Bull’s pace immediately.
“We will consistently be bringing upgrades to the car over the next few races, which is something to look forward to,” he said, “but there is no such thing as a magic bullet that transforms the car, and it’s about being realistic with your expectations. Hopefully we will see a steady improvement.”
Mercedes currently sit third in the Constructors’ standings, nine points behind Aston Martin and already a full 67 points behind Red Bull at the top, with the Milton Keynes-based squad boasting almost double the tally of any other team after the opening three rounds of the season.