Toto Wolff believes beating Red Bull in today’s ground-effect aerodynamic era is “against the odds”, but that doesn’t mean Mercedes aren’t striving to do just that.
Although Mercedes wrapped up the 2023 campaign with a podium finish at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and P2 in the championship, for the former World Champions it was anything but a successful season.
They failed to win a single Grand Prix, scored fewer points in the teams’ standings than Max Verstappen managed by himself, and intend to scrap their W14 concept and start all over again for next season.
‘A Mount Everest to climb in order to catch up with Red Bull’
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
It’s not a hurdle they have to overcome, it’s Mount Everest.
“When you win on a day like today, P2, it reminds you that you lost P1,” Wolff told the media including PlanetF1.com after Sunday evening’s finale.
“And I think we need to take it on the chin, be humble about it, and consider today as a good day.
“Nevertheless, you know there is a Mount Everest to climb in order to catch up with Red Bull.
“I have no doubt that McLaren is going to be right in the mix next year, maybe Aston Martin, maybe others. We must leave no stone unturned which is what we do in Brixworth and in Brackley.
“As tough as it is to be reminded that it’s just P2, it’s also a great, great opportunity to come back and drive for the stars.”
Beating Red Bull is ‘against the odds’
Wolff’s comments are a heap more encouraging than Lewis Hamilton’s with the Briton declaring Red Bull’s 17s winning margin at the Yas Marina circuit was a “concern” for next season.
Verstappen’s 19th win of the season capped the most dominant performance from a single driver and a team witnessed throughout Formula 1’s history.
Wolff concedes it won’t be easy stopping that juggernaut.
“Red Bull started into these regulations in 2022 with a massive advantage and was able to maintain it,” Wolff said.
“We have respect for… you’ve got to have a lot of respect for their achievement, from the engineering side and the driver.
“Beating them under the current regulations is against the odds, that’s clear.”
He, however, is taking inspiration from the huge gains made by McLaren and Aston Martin, McLaren making inroads with their in-season upgrades while Aston Martin arrived on the 2023 grid having found a second over the winter.
“At the same time,” he continued, “we’ve seen with McLaren who had an update and unlocked a second of lap time. AlphaTauri coming strong at the end and Aston Martin over the winter.
“There is a key to unlock dramatically more performance and I think us assessing it in an honest way that this car is never got to be good enough to fight for the championship.
“We’ve taken the decision in spring that we’ve got to go back to the drawing board and come up with something new next year. But Mount Everest is in front of us.”