Wolff concedes competitive W13 is ‘not a given’

Michelle Foster

Mercedes have been the dominant team the past eight seasons but Toto Wolff says it is “not a given” they’ll maintain that form this season.

Formula 1 has a new look this year, the sport moving to cars designed around ground effect aerodynamics with simpler wings.

The aim is to close the gap between the front and the back of the field, the new cars said to make following easier.

Mercedes revealed their interpretation of the new regulations on Friday, taking the covers off a silver W13 that featured an interesting nose and front wing design while the sidepods were yet another new look compared to what other teams have unveiled.

“The hopes are that we have a competitive car, it is not a given with the new regulations,” admitted Mercedes motorsport boss Wolff.

“People are saying are we going to win another title and we don’t know if we are even in the hunt for another title.

“What I know is this team has always has been able, even if circumstances were difficult like at the beginning of last year, to just dig ourselves out of a disadvantage situation.

“Wherever the car is I’m sure we’ll be doing everything to competitive.

“So my hope is that the car goes fast, and that Lewis and George are happy with how it drives. That would be a good starting point.”

Last season Mercedes lost the Drivers’ title at the final hurdle, Lewis Hamilton overtaken by Max Verstappen on the final lap in Abu Dhabi.

The team did retain the Constructors’ Championship, extending their record-breaking run to eight on the trot.

Putting that disappointment behind them, Wolff aptly put it that everyone starts from zero again this season with everything to play for.

“Eight championships, I mean it feels a little bit surreal that we achieved that eight times in a row,” he added.

“Obviously there was a shadow with the Drivers’ Championship, with Lewis’ championship and the Abu Dhabi situation, but let’s look into the future.

“The mindset of the team has been the same over the past few years, the points card goes back to zero.

“There is nothing from the previous year that will make you win the current championship.

“No credits to be taken, and no sense of entitlement.

“Every year we are sceptical as to whether we have done a good enough job, and that’s the right mentality.”

This year Hamilton has a new team-mate in George Russell, the Mercedes junior stepping up after three seasons with Williams.

 

As for the new technical regulations, Wolff described it as “an almost seismic change” that is “exciting for all of us and soon we will see if we have done a good enough job.

“You can only rely on your own skills, on your organisation, on your ethos and your values. It will be interesting to see whether we missed out on some innovation or whether we have been the ones who lead the charge in terms of performance.

“Whichever is the case, our success will be defined by how we adapt to the situation and develop our understanding of the car throughout the season.

“2022 is a year full of opportunities and risks; it’s two sides of the same high-stakes coin, which is why we love sport so much.”

 

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