Mercedes may finally be on the cusp of admitting its ‘no sidepods’ concept for the new-in-2022 ground effect regulations is a failure.
Lewis Hamilton headed into the Bahrain season opener admitting that Mercedes may once again be trailing behind Red Bull and Ferrari.
Now, even the Mercedes engine customer Aston Martin appears to also be ahead of the works team.
“We found out we are a long way off the guys in front,” seven time world champion Hamilton said.
“We kind of knew that from the test but it’s a big gap. We are just on the wrong track. There was progress through last year, but the gap wasn’t as big as it is now.”
When asked if Mercedes is able to close the gap, the 38-year-old insisted: “Yes.
“But I think it’s quite hard with the concept we have. Looking at the long runs, Red Bull are a second a lap faster.
“We’ll continue to tweak bits here or there but it’s going to be milliseconds rather than closing a one second gap.”
When he touched down in Bahrain, Hamilton told reporters that rumours Mercedes have a “B” car in the works for 2023 were “n onsense” because it would be impossible under the budget gap.
But on Friday, whilst agreeing with Hamilton that the budget cap is a major complication, technical director Mike Elliott admits the basic car concept may need to be re-thought.
“I think you’ve got to take a long term view and say, if you were on the wrong path, what would you do?” he said in Bahrain. “And you obviously need to address that.”
Elliott admits Mercedes did “a lot of work” last year and over the winter looking at “other types of solutions” other than the no-sidepod concept.
“We kept coming back to this one as being the one that favours us,” he said. “Is that the right long term solution? I guess we’re going to find out.
“I think Toto (Wolff) has already said we’ve got different bodywork coming. It won’t be the same as other people’s and it won’t be the same as what we’ve got. But it’ll be different,” Elliott revealed.
“Let’s just see where we are here. You can’t take your medicine until you know what ailments you’re trying to fix.”