Toto Wolff lifts lid on how he could do more harm than good at Mercedes

Michelle Foster
Mercedes' revised sidepods and floor edge for the W14. Monaco, May 2023.

Up close of Mercedes' revised sidepods and floor edge for the W14. Monaco, May 2023.

Following their first double podium of the season, Toto Wolff says the decision to drop the zero-pods wasn’t his to make because if he was the one designing the car then Mercedes “wouldn’t be a good situation”.

Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix marked Mercedes’ second outing in the new-look W14 with the team having dropped the zero-pods in favour of a more Red Bull-styled downwash concept. The heavily revised car also came with a new floor and front suspension.

After a solid debut in Monaco, the team built on that to secure their first double podium of the season at the Circuit de Catalunya with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell second and third behind the rampant Max Verstappen.

It had pundits applauding Wolff for Mercedes’ decision to change the car’s philosophy with the motorsport boss quick to give that credit to the team’s designers and engineers.

“If I started designing the car,” Wolff told Sky F1. “It wouldn’t be a good situation.

“Everyone concentrates on what they do best. It is the task of the designers and all other engineers to develop the car.”

He added: “I think we needed the shock at the beginning of the year to understand that it [the old zero-pod concept] wouldn’t go any further. That really shook us up.” recommends

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The Austrian concedes Mercedes didn’t know for definite when they introduced the revised car whether it would pay off.

“I’m very happy for the team because we put so much work into the car and made decisions that we weren’t sure would work out,” he told Sky Deutschland.

“We completely changed the front suspension and the aerodynamic concept was completely thrown overboard.

“I always said that we might take a step back first, [but] on race day it worked out well.”

Stating the Sunday’s result was a “relief because it could have gone totally in the other direction”, Wolff has urged the team to “stay on the ground.

“Max was 15, 16 seconds up at the end – Lewis took his foot off the gas there. That’s a gap.”

But whether it was track dependent, the team boss isn’t saying.

“I always say it’s like a share price: as long as it rises, it’s good,” he added. “There will always be outliers, always a zigzag. But it feels better [overall now].”

Looking ahead of the next race where Hamilton will be vying for a record-breaking eighth Canadian Grand Prix win and Russell his first, Wolff is cautious about the team’s chances.

“It’s something completely different again, our brakes broke down there last year,” he said. “It’s a track that suits Lewis really well.

“I hope we can catch up there and have the pace there.

“The direction of development is correct, but like a share price, there can be setbacks. We have to accept that.”

Mercedes’ double podium in Spain saw the team leapfrog Aston Martin in the Constructors’ Championship with the Brackley squad ahead in the race for second by 18 points.