Mercedes’ Formula 1 car from 2022 ‘simply does not work’, worries Toto Wolff

Toto Wolff was frustrated by another bad weekend for Mercedes at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. (Photo by Xavier Bonilla / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says aspects of its working Formula 1 car from 2022 ‘simply do not work’ with the sport’s new rules.

The Silver Arrows have built the best car on the net since 2014, allowing them to win record-breaking eight consecutive constructors’ championships, but they are far from the pace of frontrunners Ferrari and Red Bull so far this season and are unable to challenge race victories.

The most radical series of regulatory changes in a generation has been introduced by the F1 for 2022 in an attempt to enable cars to follow each other more closely and, in theory, create more exciting races. So far, the evidence suggests that the new technical specifications have the desired effect, with a shaken driving order and increased downforce through the corners, combining enthusiasm for fans.

But the F1’s return to ground-based car aerodynamics for the first time since the 1980s brought with it an aerodynamic distinctiveness, known as guinea pig, which significantly impedes Mercedes’ performance.

Guinea pigs are the name of the phenomenon where air is trapped under the floor of the car, which from this season onwards is used to generate more downforce than ever before. Once trapped, the air moves rapidly back and forth under the car, causing it to bounce wildly up and down at high speeds on straight lines.

While some teams have been able to mitigate the intensity of their guinea pigs, Mercedes is struggling so much with it that team manager Wolff revealed during Emilia Romagna’s Grand Prix weekend that their drivers had to lift the accelerator on straight lines . to be able to steer the car.

George Russell has managed to score a top five spot in each of the first four rounds of the campaign and is in fourth place, but seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is 21 points from his team and slid to a thirteenth place at. Imola on Sunday.

Now Wolff says that while the W13 has potential in some areas, its design concept has such a fundamental problem that it may simply not be viable with the rules.

“We have a direction to unlock the potential of the car to bring us much closer, but at the moment we do not have the key,” Wolff told the BBC. “So we just have to grind away and rely on science and physics before we go into some kind of negative momentum, which we are not.”

Lewis Hamilton was unable to pass slower cars in front of him at Imola. (Photo by Dan Mullan / Getty Images)

‘That’s a valid point [that our concept may be flawed]. All the good and the bad happen mainly on the floor [of the car] and we have interesting ideas and concepts that we are exploring and that will find their way into the car in the next few races. ‘

Despite admitting that the team floor – and the impact its design has on the rest of the car – is causing problems, Wolff insists there are aspects of the car that they do not want to renew.

‘I would not say that there is such a thing as one [entire] the concept is wrong, ‘explained the Austrian. ‘But [what we have to establish is] is there a part of what we have made that simply does not work with the rules, and what is it? You do not have to throw away the goodness, but if there are fundamental areas that do not allow us to unleash the potential that we believe is in the car, then you need to cut back on your losses. ‘

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton would have expected to be able to challenge the championship in 2022. (Photo by Mark Thompson – Formula 1 / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

One of the main problems Mercedes currently has is that its technical staff is still unable to fully understand why its design performs so poorly on the track. That prevents the team from being able to write off 2022 at all in order to develop towards 2023, Wolff says.

‘That would mean you say, “Where’s the baseline now?” Is there a new one we can start on where we believe we can unleash more potential? ‘, Wolff said. ‘[But] if we believed it, we would have done it five months ago. We thought that was the line of development we should take. So it’s a pretty cumbersome exercise.

“You can only cut losses for next year if you understand where we went wrong, because at the moment we are simply not doing it. Not yet.’

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