Toto Wolff reveals customer team proved Mercedes theory with early-season gains

Michelle Foster
Toto Wolff at his desk in the Mercedes garage. Britain July 2023

Motorsport boss Toto Wolff at his desk in the Mercedes garage.

Toto Wolff revealed Aston Martin’s winter gains benefitted Mercedes as they sought to fix the W14 as it meant they could rule out any shared components being the problem.

Finishing last year’s championship down in seventh place having scored just 55 points and without a podium result, Aston Martin surged to the front of the field at the beginning of this season.

Red Bull’s nearest rival in the opening rounds, Fernando Alonso was on the podium six times in the opening eight Grands Prix.

Aston Martin helped Mercedes rule out problems

Wolff declared at the time to the media including “They gained two seconds in half a year and their car is half ours, from the engine, gearbox, and the rear suspension. And the same wind tunnel.”

As such the Austrian revealed Mercedes looked to Aston Martin as they sought to resolve their own W14’s problems.

Woefully off the pace at the start of the campaign, Mercedes introduced a B-spec car at the Monaco Grand Prix which featured a new front suspension, new sidepods, and floor.

The reason for those changes, none of those components were on the clearly quick Aston Martin AMR23 with Wolff revealing they realised the parts they shared with their customer were not the cause of their problems.

“It was actually really good that Aston Martin was so competitive at the beginning of the season,” he told Aston Martin ambassador Pedro de la Rosa on the F1 Nation podcast.

“Because that at least for us made it clear that the rear end is not the problem, the gearbox is not the problem, the engine is not the problem, the rear suspension is not the problem. We have to look elsewhere.

“And that’s why I like having teams that are on the same spec.” recommends

Seven shocking stats from Mercedes’ horror F1 2023 season

Ranked: The 10 best drivers of the F1 2023 season

Aston Martin’s gain an eye-opener for Mercedes

But the parts weren’t the only way Aston Martin helped Mercedes this season.

Going from being one of the slowest teams in 2022 to pipping powerhouses Mercedes and Ferrari to sit P2 early on in the championship, Wolff said it showed Mercedes that there were big gains to be found.

“The second thing is that the step that you made from last year, being among the slowest teams, to the beginning of the season being clearly number two, it shows that if you unlock potential, then you can have a big step forward, not just bolting on a tenth of downforce,” he said.

“This is just what we need to find. So we’re going to make a two-and-a-half-second step like you’ve done okay.”

De la Rosa, though, warned the Mercedes boss that with Alonso on the team, Aston Martin could yet again “make also a two and a half second next year.”

Wolff replied: “I assure youyou did it already!”

Mercedes finished the season second in the Constructors’ Championship with 409 points while Aston Martin lost ground to fall to fifth with 280 points.

Read next: FIA open door to staggering Michael Masi return… on one condition