Toto Wolff says it could take up to a year for Mercedes to catch up with Red Bull after they started the 2023 season well off the pace.
Any hope that the 2022 campaign was a one-off for the Silver Arrows proved to be too optimistic with the W14 suffering from similar performance problems as its predecessor.
The small glimmer of hope is that a lack of porpoising means the Brackley squad at least have a car to build on for the future but drastic changes are rumoured to be on the horizon. They are working on a change of concept with their ‘zeropod’ side pods rumoured to be ditched for a style more similar to that of Red Bull’s.
But while they are playing catch up, their rivals are only developing more and forever maintaining the gap that currently separates the Silver Arrows and the frontrunners.
Team CEO and principal Wolff has put a time on when Mercedes fans can expect them to be competitive against but has warned it could be up to a year.
“I think the length [of time] is probably between six and 12 months, because that’s the time that it really took for us [last year] to figure out what was actually happening with the car,” Wolff said, as per Motorsport.com.
“That means we just need to have double the development speed, so a stronger development slope. The logic and rational speaks that for Red Bull, their gains are going to be incrementally smaller if the concept is mature.
“I think aero wise, and with wind tunnel time, that can help a bit but not hugely. It’s just, we’ve just got to get our act together and, if we fundamentally understand where we need to put the car, then the steps are going to be large. But we need to be perfect.”
Eddie Jordan: ‘I actually blame Fernando Alonso’ for not winning more titles
Damon Hill: Red Bull’s DRS is ‘going to get everybody’s attention’
Max Verstappen v Fernando Alonso compared to Alonso v Lewis Hamilton in 2007
The little bit of hope Wolff will be able to draw upon is that even after their disastrous start to the 2022 campaign, Mercedes did manage to win a race, keeping up their streak which started in 2012.
“We’re just two races in this year, but is it realistic when we look at the gaps? No, it’s not,” the 51-year-old said.
“But, we just want to give it all we have and then see what the outcome of that is. We’ve been able to catch up a lot last year with a car that was bouncing way too much, and that in a way was overshadowing everything.
“Finally we won a race and got closer to them, and I think that needs to be the aspiration.”