Toto Wolff’s shocking admission affects Hamilton’s hopes | Tech US News


In Formula One, hope can quickly turn to despair and nothing more for eight-time world champions Mercedes AMG F1. The Silver Arrows attracted attention at the second pre-season test with their upgraded W13 car without side struts. The latest evolution in F1 car design looked like the wristband team had found Nirvana in the hunt for ‘zero packaging’.

In previous seasons, Formula 1 car designers packed their side mounts ever more tightly to improve airflow to the rear of the car and thus improve downforce.

But what Mercedes didn’t understand was that this concept would be less powerful given the changes in regulations that forced car designers to give up a huge amount of downforce from the top of the car. This was a deliberate effort by the FIA ​​to reduce the “wash” that creates eddies behind the car, making it difficult for others to follow closely without damaging the tyres.

Mercedes F1 hope fades into despair

A new ‘ground force’ aerodynamic design sees the cars generate a large proportion of downforce under the ground as the car chugs onto the track.

Warning bells should have been ringing for Mercedes when the teas arrived in Barcelona two months after the Bahrain test. No other F1 team has scaled back the design of the side skirts, despite many teams bringing multiple body upgrades to this point in the season.

Still, Mercedes believed their car was as fast, if not faster, than the Ferrari and Red Bull models if they could solve their extreme porcupine problems. So the team committed to fixing the W13 rather than redesigning the car’s foundations.

It became clear that Mercedes did not believe that the side sills were part of the W13’s underlying problems.

Mercedes designers made one major mistake

Mercedes technical director Mike Elliot recently revealed that there was a moment during the W13’s design phase when a single mistake sealed its fate.

“Look at how we’ve developed the car and I can point to a moment last year where we did something that I think we made a mistake,” Elliott told F1’s Beyond the Grid Podcast.

“What you’re seeing in terms of performance and the way it fluctuates from race to race as a result of that, and that’s a mistake that we’ve known about for a while and something that we’ve been working on, and that’s why our performance has gradually improved.

“But it’s not something we can fully fix for a while, and we’ll be doing that over the winter.”

The W13 concept had a fatal flaw

While Elliot didn’t want to make it clear, the side mounts could easily be redesigned, so the problem for Mercedes is baked into the F1 2022 concept car itself.

Given that Mercedes has been dealing with the porpoise problem for so long, it must have been difficult to adjust the suspension design they committed to for 2022. The car’s ride was designed to support Mercedes’ ground concept, which seems less well supported in compared to other F1 forms.

So Mercedes brought in an extra floor stand just to remove it before it was declared illegal.

The overly moving “floppy” floor means the airflow under the car continues to stall, causing the W13 to lose a lot of aerodynamic grip and performance, and that’s clearly not something Mercedes believe they can adapt to the W13. The issue will need to be resolved over the winter as the team prepares for W14.

Mercedes is losing ground in season updates

The problem Mercedes have suffered is this fundamental flaw which means they cannot test its development this season. Other teams modifying parts of their car not essential to the concept have progressed, while Mercedes has been forced to upgrade minor aero aspects of the car.

In previous seasons we have seen teams abandon their current car design after several rounds of the season and introduce a B-Spec model. Despite the budget cap being in place, this is an extremely expensive process for in-season development budgets, so Mercedes didn’t have that option.

Toto Wolff reveals that the combination of all of the above now leaves Mercedes almost a shocking full year behind the design curve compared to Red Bull Racing.

Hamilton’s last hope for victory in 2022

Mercedes’ last real hope of a season win was dashed in Mexico when Verstappen and Red Bull defeated them.

“We believe we understand where the gap is coming from, and we lost eight or 10 months in terms of development because we couldn’t figure out what was wrong,” Wolff said after the race.

“So there’s definitely a challenge and we’re playing the long game here, everybody.

“You can’t judge a team’s performance based on one year, [but] how we were able to win titles in the long term.”

Regarding the result in Mexico, Wolff added, “Red Bull have just won nine in a row, there is no reason to be overwhelmed with second and fourth place.

“We’ve got a long way to go to catch up, we’ve got the winter, some good car development, some of the things we’re finding might be better steps than just adding a few points of downforce.

Hamilton’s 2023 hopes on the rocks

The high altitude of the Mexican circuit there meant thinner air and a big downforce package, coupled with the slick surface, created expectations that Mercedes would do well.

“I think this track suited their strengths,” said Christian Horner. “Ferrari looked a bit handicapped this weekend so I’m not sure you saw their true pace. I am sure they will be back.”

In recent weeks, Lewis Hamilton has indicated that he may now be ready to sign a long-term contract with Mercedes, despite his current deal running for another year. Mostly a contract negotiator with ‘last’, Hamilton may be aware that Mercedes are so far behind that they have no hope of winning the coveted 8th F1 drivers’ championship in 2023.

READ MORE: Alonso explains his controversial comments


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