W13 will have a ‘special’ place ‘very far back’ in Mercedes F1 collection

Michelle Foster
George Russell from behind Mercedes W13 mirror in testing. Bahrain March 2022

George Russell from behind driving the Mercedes W13 with its updated mirror assembly in testing. Bahrain March 2022

Toto Wolff has joked the W13 will be placed “very far back” in Mercedes’ collection, before adding that hopefully the lessons the car taught the team will do “her justice” in the years to come.

Arriving on the 2022 grid as the eight-time holders of the Constructors’ Championship, no one would have believed Mercedes would get it wrong with Formula 1’s brand new ground effect aerodynamic cars.

But wrong is exactly how it went as the W13 bounced from one circuit to another, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell suffering sore backs and headaches as a result of the severe porpoising.

Mercedes were forced to spend the early part of the championship resolving that issue while late-season upgrades saw them take the fight to Red Bull.

Those late-season developments, introduced at the United States and Mexican races, meant Hamilton was Max Verstappen’s closest challenger at those two races before Russell secured Mercedes’ first of the season at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

The team was, it’s fair to say, happy to say goodbye to the W13 with Hamilton joking he “might have to call in sick” to avoid driving the car in the post-season test.

But like the rest of Mercedes’ F1 cars, it will be added to the collection back in Brackley.

“I think this car will always have a special place in our collection – very far back,” Wolff told the media including PlanetF1.com.

“But I think that hopefully in the next years we’ll do her justice, because the learning curve with that car was enormous.

“Our fundamental understanding of aerodynamic, vehicle dynamics correlation, has really had a step change, has gone through a step change of learning.

“And it will also not be forgotten as a car that dominated the Brazilian Grand Prix.”

‘Understand pretty well why the car is not performing’

Wolff joined technical director Mike Elliott in likening the W13 to an “onion” with its layers of problems, although Russell dubbed it a “diva”.

Having previously stated Mercedes, with their run of championship titles, didn’t suddenly swallow a “stupid pill”, Wolff concedes the car did have problems on top of problems.

He, however, is confident Mercedes now have a good understanding of what went wrong.

“I think we have a much better understand of what the problems were,” said the Austrian. “We’ve been peeling only a layer of the onion off, discovering more issues and more problems.

“But I think we’ve come to the point that we understand pretty well why the car is not performing. The correlation at least is there for some tracks.

“So it’s all in the fine detail of how can we make the car work aerodynamically, how can we improve the ride and make it more stable as a basis.

“It’s multiple factors that contribute to a car that simply is not good enough. And I think if we’re able to solve that over the winter, at least we can provide a stable platform to the drivers and we can develop it from there.”

Mercedes to make it a three-way fight for the 2023 titles

Pundits are predicting a three-way fight for next year’s championship titles with Mercedes, with their late-season improvements, set to enter the fray.

Although Verstappen dominated this year’s championship, winning 15 of 22 races, he’s unlikely to repeat that – not so much because of Ferrari, but Mercedes.

The Brackley squad made massive inroads in the second half of the season and, while the porpoising was back in Abu Dhabi, 2023’s floor tweaks are expected to go a long way towards minimising, although not eradicating, that.

Other than that the 2023 regulations are pretty much stable meaning the W14 will be an evolution of the W13 with Mercedes, as Wolff hopes, having learnt valuable lessons from that car.

Now they just need to put those into practice and Hamilton could yet win number eight, or Russell his first.

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