Toto Wolff confirms worrying ‘crook somewhere’ in Mercedes’ correlation issues

Michelle Foster
The Mercedes W15 with its star decal

The Mercedes W15.

Toto Wolff admits there is a “crook somewhere” in Mercedes’ simulation tools with the team’s data from Brackley not translating to what they’re seeing on the track.

Despite overhauling their Formula 1 car in the off-season, Mercedes adopting a different design philosophy after two difficult campaigns, this year’s W15 has not shown itself to be any better than its predecessors.

‘On the stopwatch we are…’

In fact, Mercedes’ results are worse than in 2022 and 2023 with the team recording a best showing of P5 at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix to leave fourth in the Constructors’ Championship after three races.

The issues with the car have been largely blamed on correlation issues with the data from their simulation tools in Brackley not translating to what they’re seeing on the track.

Asked if he felt Mercedes were ‘far behind their rivals’, Wolff replied: “On the stopwatch we are.

“So there is a crook somewhere in the system because we’re measuring downforce much more than we see on the lap time. And that’s something that we have been struggling since those regulations came in in 2022.

“So we are at the point now where we are trying new avenues in order to assess how we can really… translate the performance that we see in the virtual world into the road, which we haven’t been able so far to do.”

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‘The devil’s always in the detail’

Mercedes technical director James Allison recently spoke about the team’s correlation issues with the findings in the simulator not translating to the performance on the track.

While he explained that all teams have correlation issues, Mercedes could do with “some improvement” to the tools relating to high to low-speed balance.

“There are always correlation issues in every year in every team and there always will be correlation issues between what you see in the factory and what you see on the track because the factory is a sort of reduced version of reality,” Allison explained in Mercedes’ public post-race debrief.

“It is not the same as driving a car on a real track on the actual asphalt of the actual circuit with all its infinite detail and complexity. You have simplified models back here in the factory and those simplified models are powerful for steering you one way or the other.

“But all of them have their shortcomings and all of them have their correlation issues. In large measure the models that we have, the simulation tools we have, are amazingly good at keeping us on the straight and narrow and guiding us towards more lap time. The devil’s always in the detail.

“In the area of the high to low-speed balance, we could do with some improvement in that area of the models, because there we have some difference between what we are seeing on the track and what we are seeing back in virtual world.

“And those differences, if we can bring them closer together then it just allows us to be more accurate with the projections we make back here address the things that we believe are holding the car back.”

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