Toto Wolff, Mercedes, Sakhir, Bahrain, 2023

Mercedes plan spate of car upgrades in bid to cut Red Bull’s lead

2023 F1 season

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Mercedes will bring “consistent” upgrades for their W14 in the coming races, says team principal Toto Wolff, as they strive to cut their deficit to Red Bull.

The team failed to start the 2023 season as close to the world champions as they hoped and have even been out-scored by power unit customers Aston Martin so far this year.

Mercedes lie third in the constructors’ championship, nine points behind Aston Martin and 67 behind leaders Red Bull ahead of the fourth round of the season in Azerbaijan. Wolff previously indicated during the Australian Grand Prix that Mercedes would not bring any performance upgrades until the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Imola in May.

“The next three races, we won’t be adding any performance,” he said after the end of Friday practice for the Australian Grand Prix. “[It’s now about] finding the best set-up solutions and [getting] the tyres in the right window.”

However Wolff has confirmed the team does plan to introduce some new parts over the coming rounds. “We will consistently be bringing upgrades to the car over the next few races, which is something to look forward to,” said Wolff in a Q&A posted on Mercedes’ website.

“But there is no such thing as a magic bullet that transforms the car, and it’s about being realistic with your expectations. Hopefully we will see a steady improvement.”

Lewis Hamilton has commented in recent races that he lacks confidence in the handling of team’s new car as a result of his seating position. Mercedes chief technical officer James Allison indicated the team plans to make changes to its suspension, which may help give Hamilton the feel he needs.

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Wolff says he has full confidence in the ability of the team’s chassis and power unit factories in Brackley and Brixworth to bring Mercedes back into contention for race victories.

“The machine is continuing to run in Brixworth and Brackley at a fast pace,” he said. “What you see on track is only the tip of the iceberg, but the performance of the car and power unit is made in these two factories.

“The mindset is great, the spirit is there and I see a lot of buzz. I believe 100 percent in our organisation, because our perspective is not always on a single race weekend, not even a single season. It’s on trying to build our capability so we are successful over multiple years, while recognising the fact you are never going to win every single season, because no sports team has ever done it.”

With Mercedes already having scored less than half the points of rivals Red Bull, Wolff says the team’s aim is to improve their car more quickly than Red Bull can develop their RB19.

“We understand the knowledge that we need to recover. We need to have a steeper development curve than Red Bull and fundamentally, we want to compete for race wins,” he said. “They are setting the benchmark now.

“We trust in the process and in the people, and there will be setbacks. But if the trajectory is up, that’s where we want to be heading.”

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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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16 comments on “Mercedes plan spate of car upgrades in bid to cut Red Bull’s lead”

  1. Well we will not know if Mercedes exceeded 2023 budget cap till after summer 2024 so why not.
    Also Mercedes have been very smart accounting wise keeping their F1 team spend low so doubt the FIA well be able to detect/analyse the true spending of Mercedes F1 team.

    Fairly sure that multiple engineers and designers working for Mercedes company including those working on the Mercedes AMG project One have been helping F1 team including windtunnel and CFD work (not in F1 team windtunnel) yet none of their cost/time is accounting within the F1 team budget.

    For Mercedes and Ferrari it is far more easier to hide F1 spending within their parent R&D departments than it is for Red Bull. Red Bull could not even properly split kantine spend between F1 team and their road car division.

    1. Complete rubbish. Only one team has been proven to cheat on the budget and it’s Red Bull. Until proven otherwise, everyone else is innocent.

    2. Yeah but a random person being “pretty sure” about something, doesn’t make it either true or provable. And it would need to be both to have any consequences.

    3. RBR have been amassing over the years an unrivalled knowledge in terms of mechanical parts, composite materials and aerodynamics over the years. They used to get the engines for free and spend the entire budget on chassis alone which is insane.

      As the casual fan I’m, I have predicted that they will dominate again in an engine freeze regime. It’s a déjà vu and for those who hope for their dominance to stop with the new 2026 rules, I’m sorry to disappoint you. RBR will be even more dominant with the new rules that make it basically impossible for any new manufacturer to get it wrong the way Honda did in 2015 with the removal of the MGU-H and the marginalization of the ICE.

      RBR have already rode the wave Ferrari and Mercedes were riding with their America Cup and hyper car projects. They have just been downplaying it in the media with the “Newey focusing on other projects” crap.

  2. Badly needed. Let’s hope they work well enough to give us closer fights for the wins and pole.

    1. “Badly” needed? Really? They’ve got now arguably the 2 fastest car in the field, at worst 3rd. AlphaTauri need updates “badly”, not Mercedes. Can people stop over-dramatizing Mercedes situation already?

      1. calm down junge. We want reals fights, not clown fights.

      2. I agree. There is no need at all for Mercedes to get back in the mix. They have just had a beautiful decade. I’d rather see AM or Ferrari or Haas improve.

    2. @bascb Bit ironic isn’t it that we are relying on a team that made one of the biggest miss with reg change but probably the best development (with RedBull once we’ll discover their full advantage). Quite impressed about their recovery last year, and Ferrari pales in comparison despite a strong start under new reg.

      1. Well, it’s short enough after there years of success that they still have enough of the team together to claw back some ground, much like RBR was close enough in the last few years where they were able to get back on top with this rules change.

        Ferrari – yeah, they really keep doing what Ferrari do. Talking up how this will be their year. And then sizzle out.

  3. Conflicted by wanting both a bit longer respite of Mercedes winning and wanting Red Bull to not be so dominant. Save us Aston Martin, you’re our only hope.

    1. Let’s settle for Aston Martin and Ferrari picking up the pace and Mercedes being stuck in mediocre.

      1. Let’s settle for Aston Martin and Ferrari picking up the pace and Mercedes being stuck in mediocre.

        I suspect that Ferrari are about as likely to produce a consistent improvement as Alpine and the latter is about as likely as Gasly doing a crash free and penalty-point free season. Or half season, or – oh, pick your own sub-division.

        So, all your hopes rest on AM – who, by the way, and lest you forget, are going to on the receiving end of any power chain improvements by Mercedes.

  4. regardless of how far back down the field they are, these guys at least can appear more of a menace than Ferrari…

  5. The significant “upgrades” for me are:

    Mike Elliott has switched roles with James Allison, and
    Giacamo Tortora moved into the Engineering Director role – last held by Aldo Costa until 2018 – working closely with Chief Designer John Owen.

    The move apparently helps the team adapt to the constraints of the budget cap era.

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