Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monza, 2022

Next two months of development “crucial” for Mercedes’ 2023 chances – Wolff

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In the round-up: Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says that the next two months of development work on their 2023 car are “crucial”

In brief

Next two months of development “crucial” for Mercedes’ 2023 chances – Wolff

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says that the next two months of development work on their 2023 car are “crucial” to their hopes of being race winning and championship contenders for next season.

The eight-time consecutive constructors’ championship winning team will almost certainly lose their crown to Red Bull this year after failing to secure a race win so far in 2022, with Mercedes’ W13 often performing differently on track to how the team’s simulations predicted. Wolff says that the coming weeks are critical to their work on making sure their 2023 car performs more predictably.

“We lacked the tools, the simulations and the understanding of uncovering the problem that we would create with the way the car was developed,” said Wolff. “That we couldn’t run it where we wanted to run it. Aerodynamically and mechanically, it was never in the sweet spot. It took us months to undo some of the steps we’ve done.

“It’s not like that I believe we’ve discovered the Holy Grail and we understand everything and it’s going to be a blast next year. This is now a crucial period. Literally over the next one-to-two months we need, with a certain degree of precision, to understand what needs to be done for next year.”

IndyCar champion Power “already thinking about next year”

IndyCar champion Will Power says he’s already thinking about how to defend his title in 2023 despite only receiving the Astor Cup winner’s trophy at the weekend.

Power secured his second IndyCar title at the final race at Laguna Seca earlier this month. The 41-year-old Penske driver said he did not feel overwhelming delight at securing his second championship.

“It’s not massive,” Power said. “Crossing the line and all that, not a huge upper like I have had when I won the 500 or when I won my first championship. It’s just like ‘job done, what’s next?’. That’s kind of how I feel. It’s not really not thinking about it much, already thinking about next year. I just can’t help myself.”

Morgatto crowned karting world champion

Brazilian karter Matheus Morgatto dominated the FIA Karting World Championship final at Sarno in Italy to be crowned world champion for 2022.

The 18-year-old led all 20 laps of the race from pole position to win by more than two seconds from 2021 world champion Tuukka Taponen, with Oscar Pedersen third. Red Bull junior driver Arvid Lindblad was eliminated from contention on the opening lap.

It was Morgatto’s first world championship victory at his fourth attempt, becoming the first Brazilian karting world champion since Ruben Carrapatoso won the Formula A class world championship back in 1998.

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Comment of the day

This weekend’s Caption Competition winner is Derek Edwards!:

I had based the script for Driven 2 on Ferrari’s season, but the producers said nobody would believe it.

Derek Edwards

Thanks to everyone who came up with caption idea this week and a special mention to Raymond Pang, jff and Pat Ruadh who all came up with particularly good captions.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Robk23 and Patrick!

On this day in motorsport

  • 40 years ago today Hector Rebaque, who had been team mate to Formula 1 world champion Nelson Piquet the year before, scored his only CART IndyCar win in strange circumstances when the series visited Road America for the first time. Several of Rebaque’s rivals ran out of fuel and he was the only driver left running on the last lap

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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30 comments on “Next two months of development “crucial” for Mercedes’ 2023 chances – Wolff”

  1. prepared to let a poorly-crafted licensing system keep away its first legitimate American prospect in seven years.

    and just a bit earlier in the reading:

    IndyCar champion Will Power says he’s already thinking about how to defend his title in 2023

    So, the guy that collects enough points to get into F1 doesn’t want to, and the guy that wants to do F1 doesn’t collect enough points.

    and it’s the FIA at fault?

    1. and it’s the FIA at fault?

      The fact that Indycar doesn’t get as many of the completely silly and unnecessary super licence points as categories that are below it and that a driver with obvious talent who was competitive with Lando Norris when they were team mates in lower formula and who has won races in Indycar is been blocked from having a go at F1 despite more than 1 team thinking he’s good enough is completely the FIA’s fault.

      The super licence point system shouldn’t exist to begin with as it was/is completely unnecessary. It was something introduced to stop another Max Verstappen as the FIA were of the view he was too young & too inexperienced so the silly points system was introduced to force drivers to spend more time in other categories & setup specifically to encourage them to run the FIA backed ladder system of F4>F3>F2.

      A driver who has won races in Indycar which is at a higher level, More competitive & more diverse than F2 shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to be able to have an opportunity in F1 when there are teams who want him to drive for them.

      Same way that a team with a history of success run by guys with a deep history and passion for the sport shouldn’t be blocked from entering just because the FIA are only interested in accepting new team entry’s from manufacturers.

      Both the FIA & Liberty should be embarrassed at how closed off & elitist the show that was once a sport has become.

      1. Indycar is the second-highest ranked series in the FIA super license system, and the only series other than Formula 2 that is awarded enough points to make its Champion immediately eligible for a super license.

        The problem is not the current FIA super license system, the problem is – as SteveP correctly pointed out – that Colton Herta only managed to finish 7th, 3rd, 5th, and now 10th in his four full seasons in Indycar so far.

        1. Maybe it the effect of following to many F1 silly seasons, but my main probelm with this “Herta issue” is what the hell this kid made of so amazing to deserve a waiver. As pointed he cant beat the Indy field. Can we sincerely believe that he would beat, lets say, Russell? All this trouble for a driver that probably wount be much better than Sainz. If he had the direct backing from an american manufacturer, I would say ok. But he seems to be only another drive in the Mclaren program. So, no comptetitve or financial factor to justify the buzz.
          And I sincerely doubt that he would grow tha Us fan base if the best he could do is a 6th on a odd day, unless he immediately land on a Merc/RB/Ferrari.
          Given there were alternative path to collect the points, every day it passes this looks to me like the never-coming New York GP – whenever there werent more relevant news for F1 in the US, they sent a F1 car for a promotional event in NY and would release something like “We are in talks to bring F1 to Ny”.

        2. @proesterchen

          Indycar is the second-highest ranked series in the FIA super license system

          Not true. IndyCar is awarded a total of 124 points, while F3 awards 128. The distribution favors IndyCar at the high end, but F3 more than makes up the difference in P5–P10.

          That points to a rather logical strategy from the FIA: It only wants to poach the very top IndyCar drivers — champions or near-champions like a Montoya or a Villeneuve. IndyCar is not meant to be an alternative to the FIA ladder, where a driver can show promise and then jump straight to F1.

          The complexifier is that Herta’s results are heavily skewed by his (and his team’s) poor performance on the ovals, which are hardly relevant to F1. In IndyCar’s road/street course standings, he has finished P2, P2, and P6 over the last three seasons. Based purely on performance, he’s exactly the type of driver F1 would be interested in stealing.

          1. @markzastrow Unless a driver can collect super license points for multiple finishing positions in one series per season, ranking series by the aggregate super license points available to all finishers seems odd to me.

            On top of that, you cannot qualify for a super license on the results of a single season in Formula 3, while you can with Indycar, further supporting its position as the #2 series in the FIA super license point ranking.

        3. Not exactly– If you win the championship in F2 or Indy, yes, you automatically get a superlicense.

          But you can earn a superlicense in F3 faster than you can in Indycar by being consistently in the top 4– Three seasons finishing 4th in F3 will get you a superlicense. Three seasons finishing 4th in Indycar will get leave you 10 points short.

          It’s the distribution from 3rd and lower where IndyCar gets let down, scoring the same, or nearly, as Formula E and LMP2.

      2. Roger, I agree the superlicense is the wrong solution. I thought it was Kimi’s relative inexperience when he entered the sport which first saw these growing number of points rules, but maybe it was Max who caused an overhaul. I have long felt there should be some sort of age limit in motorsport categories, because whilst teenagers might be very talented, they also tend to think they are bullet-proof. Fast and fearless can be a dangerous combination.

        I also think it reasonable for F1 to say that drivers must have an appropriate amount of single-seater open-wheel racing experience to qualify but it is how you measure that experience which is the problem. It isn’t as if drivers can pick and choose which series to race in, or which cars to drive, they can’t do extra hours in their spare time to qualify. Herta has a ton of experience driving in Indy, he has learnt all the basic skills needed for the open-wheel format, but not had the car under him to get the superlicense points. People here are saying that he only finished 10th last season, as if that validates the FIA rules. It doesn’t.

        F1 drivers who have gone to Indy have not blown the field away. Takumo Sato, seven years in F1, drove for Jordan, BAR, SuperAguri, has spent 13 years in indy, best championship position 7th, most years well ouside the top 10. Jean Alesi, disqualified from the indy 500 for lapping so slowly he was considered a safety hazard. Stefan Johannsen drove for McLaren and Ferrari, went to indycar and never won a race in four seasons. Nelson Piquet, destroyed his indycar in the wall when trying to get into the pit lane. So if Sato etc were considered good enough for F1, how can you possibly block drivers like Herta?

        I feel that provided a driver has an appropriate amount of experience and maturity, and is seen to be competitive, it should be up to teams to decide if they want that driver in there car, not for the FIA to decide who has driven the right sort of races according to their algorithm.

    2. I’m not sure if Herta is good enough, but why can’t he just get a Learner License and fit an L on the back of his car.
      In the worst case he cannot participate in the night races.

  2. It’s tricky with Herta. He definitely has the talent and would be competitive in F1. But would he be a Tsunoda-type from the first part if his rookie season where he started lashing out in frustration when things didn’t go his way. That won’t endear him to American fans, who want their winners to speak loudly and proudly but those who who are struggling aren’t given much grace. Herta won’t be in a top car if he makes it in, so will American fans flock to a driver in a midfield team? He’ll definitely have a ton of support initially and it will bring in even more American fans but will it last if he starts lashing out and struggling in the midfield?

    I guess I am more disappointed that the Andretti team can’t find a way into F1 than the super license program keeping Herta out. I think an American team with someone like Herta, even if he and the team struggled, would be pure narcotic for American fans. But Herta on his own at AT or Alpine, which have no real ties to America, I don’t think would be as successful from a “grow American fan base” perspective.

    1. Given how much Americans like a winner, I think that a charismatic winner from most countries would do the trick of growing the fan base. Americans seems ready to accept non-American talented, charismatic winner, maybe even more than a midfield-runner US born driver. Just how little they liked when Helio or any other Brazilian won Indy500.
      Sincerely, if a US driver arrives at F1 and doesnt have a chance do win – I am not even talk about winning but having a chance, as most US series allow – it might have opposite effect. Especially if the US driver arrives at F1 touted as a great driver, the fact that the kid cant can better than 5th unless he is in RB/Ferrari/MB, they might see F1 almot like a “pay to win” series.
      And being the “US driver” would be horrible to the driver as he would have not only yo driver well but to serve as an ambassador to F1 in the US. And that would be a demanding task.
      They main problem does not seems to be the lack of US drivers but the lack of charismatic champions in F1, at least “saleable” champions for the US audience.

    2. It’s tricky with Herta.

      I disagree. It’s very simple: Colton Herta has not collected enough super license points to become a Formula 1 driver.

  3. petebaldwin (@)
    19th September 2022, 0:47

    The crazy thing with Herta is if he finishes 3rd in Indycar next year, he’ll have done 5 full seasons in Indycar, with two 3rd place Championship finishes as well as a 5th place in addition to 7+ race wins in more than 80 races and he still wouldn’t qualify for a super licence.

    If he had never joined Indycar and instead went to F2 and finished 5th in the Championship twice, he’d have done less than 30 races in a junior series and would qualify for a super licence….

    1. I see your point but lets face it: if F2 champions are not a sure bet thing in F1, can we really expect that a guy who can even beat the Indycat field would really be that amazing addition to F1 to justify all that fuzz about superlicense. When we see how some ex F2 driver perform in Indycar, I would dare that finishing twice 5th or over in F2 almost means more than being 3rd twice in Indy. It is not like FIA is depriviing HErta from a basic human right or that there werent alternative paths to a Superlicense. F2 might deservingly earn more points to the license because it means that the driver spent the best part of a decade driving under some sort of FIA supervision/competition standards.

    2. What’s crazy about that?

    3. I guess if you are trying to ensure that drivers that get to F1 have enough skill and experience (which seems sensible), then I think the Herta situation highlights a flaw in the points allocation and (perhaps intentionally) an underrating of IndyCar.

      Context is everything. Indy has some differences to F2, F3, sure, but a big one when we are considering driver capability is that it’s a destination series, where drivers have careers, and the champion returns. To win, to finish at the sharp end, you have done very well.

      How many champions has Indy had the last 10 years? 5. Power, Palou, Dixon, Newgarden and Pagenaud. All from either Penske or Ganassi (5 each). Herta’s team, Andretti, has fluked one championship in 15 years. F2, will have 10 champions every 10 years, with other top finishers not returning. F2 might be where the standout talent seeks it’s pathway, Russell, Norris, LeClerc, etc, but the depth of talent and experience is not there compared to Indy. To finish top 6-8-10 in Indy, against experienced, returning, career competitors seems a bigger achievement than doing the same in F2.

      And to win 7 road-street course races over 4 years, for Andretti, against Penske and Ganassi, is no mean feat. One could be a bit of a fluke, but not 7. In his four years, he’s won 7 races, the rest of Andretti 3 (I think).

      For me, this passes the skill and experience requirement. The teams can then work out if they think he’s the driver for them.

  4. Sainz jnr like father like son, he keeps finding ways of inflating himself. He effectively said that he is better than Schumacher and Nadal when he is speaking of Woods.
    He has been slower than all his team mates, bar one, ordinarly you’d be out of f1 after 2 to 3 seasons of mediocrity. People like to trash Stroll but don’t speak of Carlos. I don’t understand.

    1. He effectively said that he is better than Schumacher and Nadal when he is speaking of Woods.

      Nowhere does he claim that, or can that be deducted from what he has actually said!

      Just a reminder of what he is quoted of saying:

      “I’ve met Rafael Nadal, I met Michael Schumacher back in the day, and many, many others, but Tiger I think would impress me.”

      1. It can absolutely be desucted from what he is saying. A peer of his sport, does not match him, another spanish sportsman does not top him but a star from a sport directly unrelated to him does make him feel star struck.

        He effectively makes it sound like he is at shumacher’s level therefore he is not fazed by him and he is as much as a spanish hero as Nadal because he does not feel like he is on a presence of a superstar when he is around nadal.

        1. English is clearly not your mother tongue, but trust me, what you write here is totally incorrect.
          – he does not claim “A peer of his sport, does not match him”.
          – he does not claim that Nadal “does not top him”.
          – he never comes close to making “it sound like he is at shumacher’s (SIC) level”
          – he does not even claim that “he does not feel like he is on a presence of a superstar when he is around nadal” (merely that he would not be nervous meeting him as opposed to Nadal/Schumacher).

          Dislike him all you like, but don’t make up stories.

          PS did you even notice this was a story from the Golf part of Eurosport? Which explains why they focussed on his quotes about Woods (a golf player).

    2. I don’t take him seriously anymore since he signed in the Bottas, Irvine, Barrichello, … role at Ferrari. We all know he is in a support role only. He might win a race here and there if the nr1 can’t

  5. Indeed crucial & Merc being roughly equal on pace with RBR & Ferrari at next season’s beginning would be good in case Ferrari bottles up next season too.

    Revisiting previous championship comebacks is somewhat pointless as Leclerc’s situation is pretty incomparable anyway with a different points system & or considerably greater deficit, including a different set of circumstances.
    Realistically, zero hope.

    The Indy Star article is good & I agree that IndyCar should grant more SL points.
    I’d even be okay with scrapping the entire points system, leaving only the minimum age limit of 18 alongside at least 300 km at proper racing speed in an F1 car & rule studying as eligibility requirements.

    1. Mercedes is furiously working on 2023. They are already running simulations of lobbying on their workstations.

    2. @jerejj

      Honestly, Mercedes need one victory this year to give them hope for next season. If not a victory, at least a race weekend where they are in genuine contention (like they were at the British GP). People have forgotten that Mercedes was closer to battling the midfield than they were front runners for the first 6 to 7 races of the season. So, they have made some progress already, but to take that larger step, they’re going to have to cut the gap to Red Bull by at least 3 tenths more by the end of the season.

      Ferrari is going to fail next year again.. despite whatever Charles and Mattia say about ‘learning from this and coming back stronger’ , they actually never seem to learn or improve. They’ve already dropped themselves out of contention for next season by showing that they can’t be a threat despite having the fastest car on the grid.

      Regarding Charles’ chances for this season.. none of those comeback stories can even give them hope. The championship ended in France for them.

  6. Did I get it right or is it just me not catching Toto’s drift saying that they understand everything about the car and it’s still failing their expectations. Time to sell the team I think.

    1. @boomerang Isn’t he saying: in two months time we should understand the car” So they still don’t understand it now?

    2. Based on Wolff and Russell’s comments, I’m led to believe Mercedes now thinks they know what’s wrong with the car.

      But they have to put it to the test, because so far, wind tunnel / CFD have not matched up to real world performance.

      If they can’t validate what they think is wrong with the car by November, then it’s time to scrap the podless wonder and produce a better RB18.

  7. The French F4 races were pretty entertaining, but boy did they illustrate their role as a training ground! Check out the first race of the round, where there was a startline crash on the formation lap, followed by I think 3 safety cars.
    A much fuller field than GB4 though, so there’s that.

    1. I don’t normally watch F2 races, but when I do …. Whoaaa… what was that.?
      At the Monza event, off the start, the last placed car stuffs it into the side of the second last placed car, in the first corner.
      Yes you can win or loose a race in the first corner, but you better be near the front of the field, not dead last.

      1. Whoops, I missed that one! Fighting over crumbs, both go hungry…

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