Toto Wolff gives new Mercedes verdict: From ‘awful’ W13 to ‘not good’ W14

Michelle Foster
Mercedes revised no zeropod sidepods. Monaco May 2023

Mercedes revised no zeropod sidepods. Monaco May 2023

Toto Wolff delivered an unsettling verdict on Mercedes’ progression that has gone from an “awful” W13 at last year’s Monaco Grand Prix to a “not good” W14 this season.

Mercedes introduced their new W14 at the Monaco Grand Prix, the team doing away with the zero-pod concept in favour of bulkier sidepods while also running a new front suspension, cooling system and floor.

It lived up to expectations in that it wasn’t the silver bullet Wolff had previously said didn’t exist, nor did it see the team enter the fight for pole position or the race win.

But it did close the gap, at least between last year’s Monaco qualifying where George Russell was seven-tenths away from pole and this year’s where Lewis Hamilton was less than four-tenths down.

Hamilton went onto finish the grand prix in fourth place with Russell P5, the team-mates closing the gap on Aston Martin to just a single point in the Constructors’ Championship. recommends

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“It’s so difficult [to assess] because we were in the mix with Aston Martin and with Ferrari, I would say,” Wolff said.

“On a positive note, maybe encouraging because we have never been really good here.

“We have been three tenths behind pole. Last year was six tenths, the car was awful last year and this time around the drivers said it’s not good.

“So, there’s a step in description. But we really need to be careful. We’ve got to go to Barcelona, collect more data. It’s a new baseline.

“I don’t expect us clearing Aston Martin and Ferrari there either.

“It is more about understanding what does this car do now and how do we need to set it up?

“We’re really good at grinding away once we decide the development direction.

“Even with the old package that wasn’t great – it was terrible at the beginning of the season – we managed to win a race in Interlagos in a very dominant way. So, we’re going to get there.”

The Austrian believes the new W14 will be better suited to “proper” circuits with Barcelona set to be the car’s first true test.

“Here, it’s mainly ride and low-speed downforce,” he explained. “You don’t see that on many other tracks. So, we’re coming to more mid- and high-speed corners, proper racetracks. It should be good.

“I think we’ve been better in FP1 actually and FP2 than the rest of the weekend.

“The more the track grips in, the less performant we are. It’s really a lot of learning at the moment because everything is new.

“We’ve got to just collect the data and set the car up.”