George Russell, Mercedes, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023

“No shame” if Mercedes’ revamped car looks like a Red Bull – Wolff

2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says he doesn’t care if their attempt to produce a more competitive car results in a design which resembles Red Bull’s.

The team has accepted it needs to overhaul the design of its W14 after failing to make the progress it expected at the beginning of the 2023 season.

The W14 retains the highly unusual ‘zero’ sidepods of its predecessor. However Wolff said he doesn’t care if its distinctive design is replaced by one which mimics the Red Bulls which have won 11 of the last 12 races.

“We have no dogmatism of how the car should look like,” said Wolff after qualifying for today’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. “It just needs to be the quickest possible race car. If that looks like a Red Bull… I don’t care. It just needs to be quick.”

“I will have no shame if it’s quick,” he added.

Mercedes are reconsidering all aspects of the car’s design beyond its unique sidepods, said Wolff. “It is all the aerodynamic surfaces that are visible from the leading edge all the way to the diffuser and the beam wing.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023
Red Bull’s RB19 is the class of the field
“There is massive amounts on the floor, obviously, with a ground effect car. And then there is many more architectural things that are necessary in order to give it the bodywork that you think is most efficient. So literally the car is being turned upside-down at the moment and there’s a lot of goodness that we see.”

Earlier this weekend George Russell suggested that, having been too aggressive with its 2022 design, the team had gone over-reacted with its latest car. Wolff gave a similar view.

“I think you’re trying to fire it right in the target and the first time we missed it on the left and looked at the target again and the next time we missed it on the right,” he said. “So that’s a bit where we are.”

On Thursday Lewis Hamilton said he felt Mercedes had made a mistake with the design of their latest car when he saw how different it was to that of their rivals.

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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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19 comments on ““No shame” if Mercedes’ revamped car looks like a Red Bull – Wolff”

  1. It seems it was the shame that made them waste nearly a year persevering with the current concept.
    Who knows, if they had listened to the real world data and made the change last year, we might actually have a fight for 1st place this year.

  2. Look, it’s former 8-times-World-Constructors-Champions, Force India II – Milton Keynes Bugaloo.

  3. Nope. It actually would be a shame. No need to lie about it. Just own to the simple fact that your competetitor outclassed you and you will copy their ideas to be able to rival them. There’s no shame in admitting it’s a shame.

  4. petebaldwin (@)
    19th March 2023, 10:12

    There’s no shame in copying another team. Wasting a season to carry on with your own concept and then loudly telling everyone you’re going to bin off your concept to copy the Red Bull instead after 1 race isn’t so good though….

  5. So it is going to look like a red bull. Black Bull coming soon to hit the race tracks. I think it will look good in carbon Black. Hopefully it’s fast too.

  6. Mercedes can maintain the efficieny of the zero sidepods while adopting the conventional sidepod design.
    You can make the sidepod an airfoil and generate more downforce or control the airflow to the diffuser.
    The current design is only good for reducing drag.

  7. It will be a real shame since Allison who is back to oversee the F1 project again was taking jabs at Newey and RBR for their high rake set when Mercedes were obliterating the competition. Now we have Toto that I highly doubt can resolve a quadratic equation dictating the development direction of the W14. I have never seen this stuff at Ferrari with all their shenanigans. Karma :)

  8. Anyone any idea, when this ‘revamped’ version will be available?

    Surely it’s not something that can be sorted in a couple of weeks!!

    1. Charlie Racing
      19th March 2023, 12:59

      What I understand it’s May(-ish), aiming for either Baku or Imola (or both)

    2. Mercedes did mention a different set of sidepods before the season began, so if those are still a part of the new concept, they may appear as soon as Baku.

  9. Sam (@undercut677)
    19th March 2023, 12:55

    RB got the initial concept right and other designs are converging on that concept which means that Ferrari will probably never be able to match it since both cars are so different.

    1. Charlie Racing
      19th March 2023, 13:01

      Although AM have gone for a combination of the aero of Red Bull and Ferrari and are doing pretty well

      1. I think Ferrari are still fooling themselves with the early 2022, weight-induced competitiveness and their current qualifying performance while ignoring the major tyre wear issued of their current car.

        They may look “only” 6 or 7 tenths off in qualy, but their lack of race pace tells a different story.

        1. That, and it seems they can’t push the car to anywhere near its limits for fear of breaking down.

        2. @proesterchen
          Ferrari did have the best interpretation of the ground effect rules with the F1-75 straightaway out of the box. The Ferrari concept is all about maximizing the ground effect while RBR’s concept relies on working better the diffuser which is Adrian Newey territory. Ferrari invested heavily into making a floor with a very low roof. Everything (PU, auxiliaries, radiators…) had to be installed as low as possible which also explains the low engine cover that improved airflow to the rear wing.

          Ferrari novel sidepods design improved the airflow to beam wing and allowed for a stronger upwash that enabled even more airflow through the floor. The downside of this approach is the drag it creates and this comes the “bathtubs” solution on top of the sidepods that reduced drag.

          It’s the anti-porpising measure which forced Ferrari to run its car even higher which the floor was just simply not designed for and as a result their novel sidepods design become obsolete. Ferrari took a gamble with porpoising as it didn’t affect their performance.

          RBR and thanks to Newey designed the car with porpoising in mind and the rear push rod suspension was designed to prevent the floor deflecting under load. RBR reached the minimum weight limit at Hungary but that wasn’t the reason why Ferrari lost competitiveness. It was the TD039.

          This year Ferrari were able to match Red Bull in qualifying, but they fall behind significantly in races due to their struggle with fuel loads which in my opinion is normal. What’s astonishing is that the RB19 seems to be insensitive to fuel loads, tyre compounds, track conditions… suggesting that the chassis is both rigid enough to pass the rigorous FIA crash tests and nimble too.

          Also the suspension system is working to maintain the car balanced all the time. That’s why it doesn’t suffer porpoising, nor eat its tyres… It’s like Red Bull have introduced a “passive” active suspension. RBR straight line speed and the way they keep gaining speed after running out of battery is another indicator about how they are able to lower their chassis on the second part of the straight.

          They have been doing this exact same trick before they have been caught with a technical directive in 2017 that banned hydraulic actuation of heave springs. It is thought that they have implemented the same trick which is something extremely hard to do with conventional dampers and springs now that hydraulic suspension elements are banned.

          The Ferrari car aerodynamic concept is fine, that’s why the “bathtub” solution become the norm and even RBR have introduced a similar solution albeit less extreme. The advantage RBR have over the rest of the grid is “mechanical”. That trick has cascaded somehow into the Aston Martin car which made them gain 2.5s a lap. They have already copied RBR sidepods in 2022 and where nowhere near the front.

          1. @tifoso1989

            The advantage RBR have over the rest of the grid is “mechanical”. That trick has cascaded somehow into the Aston Martin car which made them gain 2.5s a lap. They have already copied RBR sidepods in 2022 and where nowhere near the front.

            It’s an important point, because as much as even more dedicated fans like to pretend, most of us really don’t understand how a specific car works and which parts – if any in particular – are making those tiny differences that nevertheless mean so much in F1. The sidepods have become the big talking point because there were three clearly different ideas introduced in 2022 that everyone could sort of spot and maybe understand the basic conceptual differences to some degree. But as you note, even teams who have radically changed their sidepods didn’t improve much, or immediately, on the back of those changes. It’s never just one thing.

            It’s not because fans are clueless; probably a lot of teams are also wondering where they’re going wrong. See Tosts’ recent comments about his engineers thinking they had it all figured out, or Hamilton’s assessment of the W14 that seemed purely focused on the most obvious visual differences.

            Aston Martin has hired quite a few Red Bull people – Andrew Alessi and Dan Fallows are perhaps the most prominent – so that should bring a pretty broad understanding of the concepts Red Bull is developing to the team. It’s all part of a system. A team can’t just copy one thing and then expect to do well.

          2. Couldn’t agree more.

  10. Electroball76
    19th March 2023, 14:26

    his days of asking are all gone,
    his fight goes on and on and on,
    but he thinks that the fight is worth it all,
    so he strikes like SilverBull!

  11. playstation361
    26th March 2023, 18:33

    Red Bull always has the same design – The big advertisement.

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