Mercedes facing "difficult" situation over F1 car concept change for 2023

Mercedes has admitted that it is in a "difficult" spot in trying to come to a conclusion over whether it needs to change Formula 1 car concept for next year.

Listen to this article

With the German car manufacturer still facing battles to understand the W13, whose form is wildly inconsistent, time is running out if the squad does want to do something completely different next year.

But its choice is a tough one to make because it does not fully understand everything that has gone wrong with its 2022 challenger, plus there are no real opportunities for it to try out radically different ideas this year.

It means the team could need to make a leap of faith in heading off in a new direction for next season, knowing that there is no guarantee it would be any better.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said discussions about its 2023 car concept had begun at the factory, and the team would need to commit sooner rather than later to what it is doing.

"It's a very difficult situation because we obviously have a certain concept of a car," he explained. "It's not like we can experiment a lot this year and just simply dial stuff out and test.

"So whatever we decide for next year needs to be carefully evaluated because clearly our data don't give us the results, and don't correlate with the reality. We have massive swings in performance that we can't really get on top of.

"In this very moment, to take a decision for next year, whatever it may be, like changing the concept dramatically, how can you be sure that that's the better direction to go because clearly we'll be starting a little bit way back?"

While Mercedes has gone it alone with its 'zero-pod' design this year, in contrast to Red Bull's downwash concept and Ferrari's in-wash, the biggest difference between the cars actually relates to how and where they produce their downforce.

George Russell, Mercedes W13

George Russell, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

The Mercedes only appears to hit peak performance when the car runs super close to the ground, which is why it has had such a problem with bouncing and the floor hitting the ground.

Red Bull appears to be at the other end of the spectrum in being able to deliver its best performance at higher ride heights, which was one of the factors in it being so dominant around Spa-Francorchamps last weekend.

Wolff is clear that a concept change for Mercedes would likely go well beyond just tweaking its sidepods.

"It's quite difficult to say what is the concept," he said. "Is it the chassis in its current shape? What is that? Is it weight distribution? Is it where you can put the mechanical and aero balance? Is it the bodywork concept?

"All these different pillars of the car are evaluated and it could mean that some of that goes and some of that stays? And that's what we're looking at the moment."

Read Also:

Mercedes' plight has also not been helped by the arrival in F1 of a cost cap, which means it has to juggle financial constraints as well. Options in the past of spending on a B-spec chassis are simply not there any more.

"Look at the chassis...we wouldn't be able to introduce a chassis at that stage of the season," Wolff said.

"We are massively overweight, which we haven't been really able to dial out because we are trying parts on the car in order to solve our various issues. So we can't afford that, full stop.

"So what was aimed by introducing the cost cap absolutely hit the target. It is what they wanted: to achieve that the big teams can't just throw money at it."

shares
comments

Related video

Video: Just how did Verstappen win from 14th at Spa?
Previous article

Video: Just how did Verstappen win from 14th at Spa?

Next article

Schumacher to cut Ferrari ties at end of 2022 F1 season

Schumacher to cut Ferrari ties at end of 2022 F1 season
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Prime

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Motorsport.com in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi.

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Prime

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Prime

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon Prime

The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s teammate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy Prime

How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Prime

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Prime

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second-best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot.

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022
The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success Prime

The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success

OPINION: Charles Leclerc achieved his target of sealing runner-up in the 2022 world championship with a masterful drive behind Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. And that race contained key elements that may help him, and Ferrari, go one better in Formula 1 2023

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022