Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Mercedes’ car may have greater development potential than Ferrari’s – Wolff

2019 F1 season

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The differences in performance between the teams since pre-season testing suggests Mercedes’ car concept may have greater potential for development, says Toto Wolff.

Last weekend Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto admitted the team may have gone in the wrong direction with the design of its 2019 challenger, which has a different aerodynamic philosophy to Mercedes.

Wolff said the performance of Mercedes, Ferrari and other teams suggests there is some truth to the idea Mercedes may be able to get more out of their car than their closest rivals.

“I think it’s definitely an interesting thought because when you see who was in front in winter testing it’s very different to the ones that are in the front today, or if you look at the fights in the midfield,” he said. “So it was two different aerodynamic concepts, and maybe there is a certain truth in it.

“But then there is never one question or one answer in Formula 1, or a silver bullet that justifies good or bad performance. I think it is about developing the car, keeping the developments strong. And we really try to add performance from weekend to weekend from the factory that means from the real hardware and software but also the real understanding of the car, the set-up and the tyres.”

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019
Ferrari’s front wing is fundamentally different to Mercedes’
The two teams produced substantially different designs in response to the new 2019 front wing regulations. Wolff said Mercedes expected to find greater performance in the long-term from their chosen design.

The team is also yet to introduce the second version of its power unit, while Ferrari ran its new engine for the first time last weekend.

“There is steps on the power to come but with mature regulations it’s not those immense steps that we have seen in the past,” said Wolff. “But still some really good work that is being number for engine number two. In terms of unleashing more performance from the chassis I think we have still good ideas.

“It’s still just the fifth race with these new regulations and more potential to unlock from the car. This is also why we decided to go that way. We felt that with the front wing concept we have followed there is more potential long-term maybe with the risk of a short-term struggle.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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33 comments on “Mercedes’ car may have greater development potential than Ferrari’s – Wolff”

  1. Less aero they say… Simpler front wing they say…

  2. Matteo (@m-bagattini)
    14th May 2019, 8:32

    > I think it’s definitely an interesting thought because when you see who was in front in winter testing

    Again with this BS. Ferrari was 0.003 seconds ahead.

    1. I was going to say the exact same thing.

      I say one thing to you Toto… DRACARUS!

  3. “may have”

    1. Toto has little grasp of the english language or is the biggest troll in F1.

      1. @maiagus More likely the latter as his English is more than decent. I’ve never really noticed any incorrect grammar in his speech.

  4. It’s honestly refreshing to see this change of tune. Long overdue change, but a change, nonetheless.

    1. @phylyp

      I don’t think even Toto imagined Ferrari to be so off the pace that no one would buy their ‘Ferrari is faster than us’ story.

      Well.. if Toto is now saying that there’s plenty more to come from their package, it’s game over for Ferrari in 2019 and 2020.

      1. @todfod actually that was part of the excitement post pre season testing, having Ferrari ahead early on and Mercedes catching up through the season thanks to better development as they seemed to have the last years.

        But having Mercedes so far ahead already now and given their record of décollent through the year (plus that they openly admit more potential then Ferrari), that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season.
        Will Mercedes be able to lap Ferrari by the end of the season? We will never know as they will manage a gap of 30sec to cover them and then cruise…

        1. @jeanrien

          Will Mercedes be able to lap Ferrari by the end of the season? We will never know as they will manage a gap of 30sec to cover them and then cruise…

          Mercedes seem entirely capable of increasing the gap to Ferrari, and Red Bull also have a much more solid in-season development curve as compared to Ferrari. So, it’s likely that Ferrari will really struggle this year.

          I think there’s a possibility that Ferrari might not win a single race this year. Regardless of their car, even their on-track operations and strategy are absolutely abysmal. Vettel hasn’t won a race in ages, and if they keep favouring him within the team, it could be an absolute disaster.

          1. To bad RedBull only has one fully excellent driver.

          2. @jureo But then Ferrari has none * badum tssss *

  5. If the rules allow different designs then you are going to get different results, there will be winners and losers before the first lap has been run. This season’s winners have already been decided, it is a waste of time to continue watching to find out who is going to win. I don’t care about the class B competition or the class C or way back the class D competition. Currently there is only one team with two cars in F1 class A, which is pretty pathetic. I blame the-clowns-with-the-massive–undeserved-pats-on-the-back-for-a-job-half-done who creates the rules for this situation.

    1. Most teams dont have the money to compete regardless of the rules.

      Ferrari has they money, they just lack the competency………

  6. Neil (@neilosjames)
    14th May 2019, 11:19

    Can remember an article on BBC Sport (Secret Aerodynamicist) in March, written after testing, saying this may happen. Re-found it, here’s a quote from it:

    But as the season goes on, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mercedes out-develop them, while the Scuderia find themselves stuck down a blind alley.

    The prediction might have come true.

    1. @neilosjames – thank you for that link, it was an amazing read.

    2. I was wondering if nobody else saw that article. Mercedes had mentioned the same thing close to the end of testing as well but at the time the headlines were all about Ferrari’s testing form. A few weeks ago Rosberg concluded the same: Ferrari pitched the aero wrong (ultimately not enough front wing). Both concluded that the Ferrari solution would be the more stable, easier car to drive (& I’m sure most of us agree it certainly looks easier to drive… the Merc looks a downright hand full) but the Mercedes/Red Bull approach would ultimately yield more downforce & also left more room for development (and made it easier to set up/balance the car).
      I wonder though if Vettel’s trouble keeping the car pointed in the right direction last year had any influence in the path they decided to take design-wise this year? It’s no secret Seb isn’t the biggest fan of oversteer: he prefers a stronger rear end (he used Red Bull’s EBD to devastating effect, but seems to be
      missing a trick since). I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure, but it’s interesting to ponder.

      1. Actually, it’s Alonso/Hamilton who prefer understeer.

        Seb&Kimi usually wanted a pointy frontend.

        1. I’m not sure about Alonso (he always just got on with the business of wringing it’s neck, regardless of how the car handled) but I’m pretty certain that Lewis, like Kimi prefers his car balance more “on the nose” so to speak. Whatever Vettel may claim to like, he’s definitely been having trouble with his car swapping ends, & has been very vocal & negative about rear end sliding.

    3. The ‘secret aerodynamicist’ cribs his columns from a few books and Scarbs on here. The BBC either knows he’s fake, or can’t tell. If you look a bit more carefully, the predictive bits are like Nostradamus: vague enough to find anything there after the fact.

      The whole thing is hype based on the hype about Ferrari having the fastest car in testing. They didn’t. They’re a bit slower than Merc on average, they haven’t produced their best in a few races, and in the last race the track was particularly bad for their car.

      If Ferrari can’t turn it around in the next few races, then we can start talking about this as a real possibility.

      At the end of the day, this has been going on for more than one season. If it’s a fundamental design difference that explains Mercedes’ dominance, it’s take and wheelbase.

      1. Thanks autocorrect, but I did in fact write ‘rake’ in the last line.

    4. @neilosjames I think it was on Autosport.com (YouTube channel) where they said the opposite. They insisted that Mercedes went with an evolution of their 2018 car, while Ferrari developed a new front wing which took more advantage of the new rule. With more prospect for Ferrari to gain even more pace as they understood the new aero better.

  7. I think there’s a possibility that Ferrari might not win a single race this year.

    The situation highlights just how good Alonso was at Ferrari. They were the 3rd best team, he was fighting 5 faster cars. He was a trooper all seasons long putting in some of the best races in history. Ferrari gave him his winning cars to keep and he has the trophies displayed next to them.
    Just a quick look at 2013. A year celebrated by Hamilton fans as one of his ‘won a race in every season’ (despite Nico beating him 2-1) Alonso gets 2 wins from 0 poles. McLaren 8 poles. Red Bull 11.

    1. ‘Mercedes 8 poles’ (I drove in the wrong pit box ;) )

    2. Man, your obsession with Hamilton is something really strange, to say the least.

      1. Don’t be too surprised, bcoliver, to see the Wikipedia entry for the year 2013 updated:

        2013 (MMXIII) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar, the 2013th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 13th year of the 3rd millennium, the 13th year of the 21st century, and the 4th year of the 2010s decade. It is also a year celebrated by Hamilton fans as one of his ‘won a race in every season’ (despite Nico beating him 2-1)


        1. A Hamilton fan would know that Rosberg only won in Silverstone because Hamilton suddenly had a puncture and dropped back from the lead.

    3. Nico “beat him” (might want to check the championship standings there) 2-1 thanks to random tyre blow outs gifting him Silverstone

    4. Couple of questions:

      3rd best team and 5 faster cars?
      Were RedBull sneakily fielding a 3rd or 4th car? I know Weber complained of unequal treatment but giving Seb 2 cars would have been spotted surely?

      Why a quick look at 2013? Hamilton fans also celebrate 2012 as one of the years in which he won a race. Is it because Ferrari/Alonso finished the WCC/WDC in 2nd place but Lewis “beat” Alonso 4-3? How about a quick look at 2014? 2015? 1958?

      Or are you only looking for a poor year for Hamilton? 2011 and 2017 might be worth your attention then…. he lost to his team mates there. How did Alonso do?

  8. Can anyone explain the “two different aerodynamic concepts” and which teams have gone which way?

    1. Look from the front and you can see the difference between Mercedes and Ferrari. Mercedes’ front wing profile seems to be elevated towards the end plate, while Ferrari’s front wing has a slope towards the ground. It also has fewer plates compared to Mercedes which made everyone believe that Mercedes’ design philosophy was not correct as per the 2019 regs. But it’s the opposite. The Ferrari fundamentally suffers from rear traction which was what Mercedes were facing in 2017 and 2018.

    2. Read this article as posted by Neil above, it breaks down their design concepts, but basically the flattened out wing edges of Ferrari and most of the field vs the more traditional wings of Mercedes and Red Bull.

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