Mercedes ruling out concept change, for now

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Mercedes ruling out concept change, for now

Formula 1

Mercedes ruling out concept change, for now

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Mercedes is not yet at the stage where it needs to make a call on whether it continues with its current car concept or drops it for a new approach in 2023, according to Toto Wolff.

Despite winning eight straight constructors’ championships, Mercedes has struggled compared to Ferrari and Red Bull under the new regulations and sits a distant third this year.

The team’s car has extremely small sidepods that were unveiled at the final pre-season test in Bahrain but the concept has proven difficult to extract performance from on a regular basis, with Mercedes struggling with bouncing at many venues and again being off the pace in Monaco despite a more competitive showing in Spain.

“If you want to change concept you need to understand what’s going to make the new concept faster than the current one, and I think if we would have known we would have done it,” Wolff said. “So at the moment we’re still very much in the structure and our organization and trying to bring development and understanding in order to increase the pace of the car.

“At a certain stage if we still do not manage to close that gap I think we need to continue to grind away and then if decisions for next year need to be taken that can’t be changed on the current car – whether it’s architectural or aerodynamically – then yeah these decisions need to happen, but we’re not at that point yet.

“At least we are going to get some more wind tunnel time from the end of June onwards, then we are coming back!”

While Monaco provides a very specific challenge from a racing point of view, there are circuit characteristics that trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin says are similar to the next venue in Baku that could make for another tough weekend.

“Certainly, it was a lot harder to get the car to work around Monaco than it was in Barcelona,” Shovlin said. “In Barcelona we had shown that we had good race pace, even though we know there is still work to do to close the gap to Red Bull and to Ferrari but the challenge of Monaco is the low speed nature, it’s a very bumpy circuit and we were struggling with the ride of the car.

“That was affecting the confidence of the drivers to carry speed and it just meant that we couldn’t run it as close to optimum as we had been able to do in Spain.

“Baku might present some similar challenges, we are working on areas though to try and improve that ride, try and be able to run the car a bit closer to its optimum window but we are well aware that in addition to adding base performance to the car, we’ve got to make it work over a wider range of circuits.

“So, these are all things that we are busy with in the next week in preparation for Baku but also longer term because there are other challenging tracks that will come up.

“But all of those projects are being worked on really hard because the team and the drivers are desperate to get back to the front.”

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