Toto Wolff has warned he will not hesitate to order more “radical changes” at Mercedes if their current change of direction does not work as hoped.
Mercedes were restricted to just a single victory in 2022 but were confident of returning to title contention this year with the W14 car, which retained the zero-pod concept of its predecessor.
But after George Russell and Lewis Hamilton qualified six tenths away from pole position at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, the same deficit with which they began last season, Wolff acknowledged the team had pursued the wrong car concept and ordered sweeping changes to get Mercedes season back on track.
And Wolff has claimed more bold decisions will be taken if Mercedes’ next step is not enough to return Russell and Hamilton to regular race-winning form.
Asked during the team principals’ press conference at the recent Saudi Arabian GP if Mercedes were likely to undergo a complete change of chassis for the 2024 campaign, Wolff said: “When you speak about the chassis, the question is, do you speak about the monocoque and basically the tub or are we speaking about everything else around?
Mercedes open up on chances of success at upcoming Australian Grand Prix
Jeremy Clarkson bemoans ‘boring’ F1 pace management by Red Bull and Mercedes
McLaren accused of ‘wrongly interpreting’ Sergio Perez during horror 2013 campaign
“I think the monocoque is one thing and that’s obviously there are weight implications, COG [centre-of-gravity] implications, where does the driver sit, more forward or more rearwards, but I think the biggest gains that we need to find is how can we extract more downforce all around the track.
“And these are the areas we are chasing now, and once you come to the conclusion in the next few months, that that was the right avenue, then things are going continue that way.
“And if we see that is not enough to actually challenge for the front, then there might be more radical decisions that need to be taken.”
After Wolff admitted that the Bahrain GP was one of the “worst days” of his career, Hamilton’s frustration appeared to get the better of him as he claimed the Mercedes technical team had ignored his guidance on the development path of the W14.
Hamilton has since gone on to describe himself as “the gateway to the car’s performance”.
Since effectively becoming the team boss in 2014, Wolff has prided himself on a no-blame culture within Mercedes.
However, the Silver Arrows’ prolonged period of underperformance is set to put that to the test, with his admission in Bahrain that the team have taken the wrong path seemingly out of step with the words of Mercedes technical staff earlier that weekend.