Toto Wolff insists that the Mercedes car can soon improve significantly despite a terrible start to the 2022 F1 season

Toto Wolff leads the Mercedes team through its most difficult period in a decade. (Photo by Eric Alonso / Getty Images)

Mercedes team manager Toto Wolff insists that the team’s wearing W13 car has the potential to improve significantly in the near future despite a very poor start to the Formula 1 campaign in 2022, but has warned that the team may have financial consequences if it has to change its design completely. in an attempt to avoid guinea pigs.

Ferrari and Red Bull are this season’s early frontrunners, having won a couple of victories each in the first four laps of the year. They seem to be competing for both the drivers ‘and constructors’ championships, with the Silver Arrows far away from the pace behind them.

The Brackley-based team has built the fastest car on the web every year since 2014, but has struggled significantly with the transition to Formula 1’s new era of technical rules, which has led to the return of ground-breaking aerodynamics for the first time since the 1980s and forced all ten teams to completely redesign their machinery from scratch.

Changes were made by the FIA’s governing body in an attempt to allow cars to follow each other more closely and for drivers to drive harder against each other. So far, the changes seem to have the desired effect, with Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen engaging in exciting tactical battles for the lead in all four of the preliminary rounds.

But the aerodynamic shift has resulted in a peculiar peculiarity known as the ‘guinea pig’, which sees cars bouncing violently up and down when driving at high speeds due to the air balance under the floor shifting back and forth. While some teams have managed to solve or mitigate the problem, Mercedes’ W13 car suffers worse than most and is simply slower through turns than Ferrari and Red Bulls concepts.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton ruled out any chance of winning the 2022 title after finishing a low 13th place at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, where he was unable to pass the likes of AlphaTauris Pierre Gasly and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll in theoretical faster machinery. .

Wolff, however, says the team is not giving up yet, and says the ‘aerodynamic goodness’ found in the car needs to be unlocked.

“We strongly believe that the science we are putting into at the moment will help us to actually drive the car lower, where we believe we have all the aerodynamic goodness,” the Austrian explained. ‘We have not been able to unlock due to [porpoising] of the car. If we are finally able to get on top of that, it means there is a lot of lap time we can find. ‘

Wolff dampened his optimism about the potential speed increase with a warning that the team could be required to start over if the guinea pig problem proves impossible to remedy with the current concept. A total overhaul would have significant cost ceiling implications for the team, however, with all F1 teams limited to an annual total budget of $ 140 million.

Lewis Hamilton is unable to challenge race victories in Mercedes’ W13. (Photo by Dan Mullan / Getty Images)

‘If not, we must have another idea. If we do not get upstairs [the porpoising]then there is a more conventional path of development that we have not yet taken, ‘Wolff added.

‘I would like to give us time to really make such a decision. We have not changed the concept [yet]. If you had to do something else, it could potentially go against your cost ceiling. ‘

The fifth round of the 2022 F1 season takes place in Florida, with the inaugural Miami Grand Prix set for the weekend of 6-8. May.

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