Toto Wolff’s harsh verdict on ‘rubbish’ ground-effect Formula 1 challengers

Henry Valantine
Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff in the pit lane. Baku April 2023.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff stands in the pit lane. Azerbaijan April 2023.

Toto Wolff believes ground effect aerodynamics produce “rubbish” Formula 1 cars, and the quickest teams under these regulations have the “least rubbish” version.

The Mercedes team boss was critical of the weekend’s action, or lack thereof, at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, in which the drivers spoke of a lack of overtaking opportunities compared to previous years in Baku.

With Formula 1’s radical change of regulations in 2022 aimed at allowing the drivers to follow each other more easily and produce closer racing, the relative stability in the regulations heading into 2023 has caused concerns among the drivers that it is becoming harder to race in close quarters again, as was the common complaint in the sport’s pre-2022 machinery.

Wolff called on the FIA and his fellow teams to see how they can avoid a repeat of the “boring” affair that took place in Azerbaijan, but does not see it as a reason to be too down on the regulations as a whole.

“After a race weekend like this, we mustn’t talk it down overall and say it is the wrong direction and we need to change completely,” Wolff told reporters in Baku at the weekend, as per the Mirror.

“It is more about asking why wasn’t it entertaining, and revisit it. We need to look at how we can avoid a boring race.”

The dominance of Red Bull continues to be an over-arching theme of the season so far, with Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen finishing well clear of third-placed Charles Leclerc on Sunday. recommends

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The Mercedes team principal and CEO was complimentary of how the RB19 seemingly glides around circuits compared to its rivals, but aimed a dig at ground effect aerodynamics as a concept – which generates downforce by air going underneath the cars, which produces less ‘dirty air’ for the car behind than previous iterations of Formula 1 cars.

“You have two cars sailing off into the sunset on merit and there is a 20-second gap,” Wolff said of Red Bull’s current form.

“I wouldn’t know between Aston Martin and Ferrari and us who was quicker because you are stuck where you are stuck and that is pretty much it.

“You can see [Red Bull’s] car is barely moving, be it on straights or over bumps. Corner-through balance looks easy.

“You look at all the other onboards and the cars are tricky. Generally, ground-effect cars are rubbish cars – it is just who has the least rubbish is ahead.”