Mercedes has given the clearest indication yet of the design direction it is pursuing with its new car for the 2023 Formula 1 season.
The eight-times champions fell to third in the standings last year, prompting speculation they would abandon the radical ‘zeropod’ design they raced last season. However the team has previously hinted it is not about to abandon the philosophy, indicating it believes the problems which compromised its W13 lay elsewhere.
Now team principal Toto Wolff has said the team will go into pre-season testing this year hoping to finally extract the performance from its unique design.
“I think we have understood how we fell back and where the shortcomings are, where we have gaps in understanding or had gaps in understanding and we’re working hard on putting a car on the ground that has addressed all of that,” Wolff told media including RaceFans.
“But we will only see when starting testing whether we have unlocked the potential that we believe has always been in the car.”
Mercedes will launch their W14 on February 15th. The sole, three-day pre-season test will begin in Bahrain eight days later.
He cautioned the team still has to significantly improve its performance to get on terms with dominant 2022 champions Red Bull and runners-up Ferrari.
“We have no doubt, when you’re starting behind by half a second, that it’s going to be difficult to catch up to such great organisations like Red Bull or Ferrari,” said Wolff.
Wolff said he is braced for the possibility that Mercedes will begin the new season as far away from their closest rivals as they were in Abu Dhabi two months ago.
“Having said that, we are super-determined in doing just that, but we need to set our expectations that are realistic level. If we perform in the way that we hope so then we’d like to be part in the racing at the very front. I think that would be a starting point.
“But we don’t take that for granted. It could well be that the gaps are like they were at the end of last season. But I think there’s so much potential still that’s within our car, within the concept, the way we drive the car, et cetera, that maybe our development slope can be steeper in the months to come.”
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