F1 | Wolff: Mercedes needs to be “sharp” in 2023 after losing “many months” of development due to porpoising
Team Principal and CEO of Mercedes F1, Toto Wolff believes his team will need to be “sharp” if it is to challenge Ferrari and Red Bull next year, after losing “many months” of car development fixing the critical issue with porpoising on the W13.
Mercedes endured a difficult 2022 season – their worst in terms of results since start of the hybrid era – due to an unbalanced car, severely affected by the porpoising/bouncing effect, which prevented it from running the car as low as its design required.
The problem hurt the team throughout the season, as the Brackley squad was far off the pace-setters Red Bull and Ferrari and were only able to score one win with George Russell at Interlagos, the penultimate round of the season, with Lewis Hamilton completing a Mercedes 1-2.
And whilst the team can now reset and focus on a brand-new car for 2023, the effects of their 2022 struggles will still be felt next season, according to Team Principal and CEO Toto Wolff.
Speaking to media after the Abu Dhabi GP, Wolff said the team has no “fear” of missing something on its 2023 car again, but reckons the team lost “many months” of car development due to having to fix the porpoising on its 2022 machine, which will make life difficult trying to catch up to Ferrari and Red Bull next year:
“I think that I have no such feeling in Formula One as ‘fear’, because it is too big of an emotion and it’s a sport [what] we’re doing.
“So no, not fear, but we need to be sharp. We’ve lost six months of development – we’ve lost many months – because we simply had to solve the porpoising problem before being able to actually add performance back onto the car.
“Because whatever we added in terms of downforce went nowhere – the drivers couldn’t feel it, the car became even more unpredictable, and the bouncing got worse. So considering the six months delay in putting performance on the car, it is something that will be tremendously difficult to catch up against Ferrari and Red Bull.
“We started the ‘100-metres sprint’ 10 metres behind everyone, so we’ve just gotta run faster – and this organization has all that is need to run faster.”
He also pointed out that the team will not get ahead of themselves by being “confident” of being back on the pace in the new season, considering the strength of the competition, but reiterated that they will do “everything” to be back in world championship contention:
“Never confident. I’m always a ‘glass half-empty’ guy, and kind of never believe that the job that we’re doing is good enough.
“I’m not sure at all whether we can bounce back to a position where we compete for championships, because you need to acknowledge that the competition is strong. But we will do everything in our power to set our objectives high and try to reach them,” concluded Wolff.
The sun might have set on W13’s story. 🌇😍— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) December 2, 2022
But that doesn’t mean the hard work stops now. 💪 pic.twitter.com/NqEEBhpcCe