Toto Wolff wants Mercedes design scrapped as Hamilton to get F1 wish

Lewis Hamilton may be set to get his wish at Mercedes with Toto Wolff admitting the Silver Arrows will need to abandon their current concept in order to return to the top of the grid again. Mercedes started last year on the backfoot after the new car regulations were brought in with the W14 failing to challenge Red Bull or Ferrari.

The ‘zeropod’ design caught the eye in pre-season testing, but the concept proved troublesome throughout 2022. They did appear to get most of the troubles fixed towards the end of the season with Mercedes picking up a one-two finish at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

And there was some confidence heading into 2023 that Mercedes were on the right track to begin challenging at the front on a regular basis once again. But it soon became clear the W14 was still lacking compared to some of their rivals, with Aston Martin also seemingly ahead of the Mercedes team.

Hamilton aired his frustrations during Friday’s free practice, stating Mercedes are “a long way off” and appearing to suggest the team went down the wrong route in sticking with last year’s concept. He added: “Everyone continues to work so hard and is so courageous and thoughtful but we are just on the wrong track. We have to graft away and try to get ourselves on the right track.”

And Wolff has now sided with the seven-time world champion, accepting the team will need a complete rethink on their car design moving forward. “I don’t think that this package is going to be competitive eventually,” he said.

“We gave it our best go last year, also over the winter, and now we all just need to regroup, sit down with the engineers, be totally non-dogmatic, ask what is the development direction we want to pursue in order to be able to win races. I’m sure we can win races this season but it’s really the medium and long-term that we need to look at.

“Every day counts. We are losing these days. It’s going to be difficult to catch up so therefore we need to take the right decisions now to set the sails in the right direction.

“I’m looking at what we can find next week, what we can add to the car, what is the change of direction that we can implement and how quickly can we do that, and maybe we can turn the ship around this year. But it needs a lot to change the pecking order.” Saturday proved to be a much better day for Mercedes in Bahrain with Hamilton showing good pace in the final free practice session.

But he was unable to translate that pace in Q3, largely due to having just one set of fresh softs available to use. The 38-year-old ended up qualifying seventh, behind team-mate George Russell for Sunday’s race.

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