Sidepods won’t fix ‘trash’ Mercedes car – Wolff

Toto Wolff has already written off Mercedes’ chances of winning the 2023 world championship.

Fellow Austrian Dr Helmut Marko said after the Bahrain season opener that if Red Bull was in Mercedes’ shoes, “it would take us three or four races” to recover the deficit.

Wolff, however, is taking another tack – simply writing off the entire season as the team heads down another route with an entirely new car ‘concept’.

“After Bahrain, I believe Red Bull will win every race this year,” he told Osterreich newspaper.

However, on Servus TV immediately after the chequered flag in Bahrain, Wolff said the plan is actually to keep charging for the championship.

“Yes, but I didn’t mean this year,” he clarified. “For this year, that is no longer the case.”

Indeed, on Austrian radio ORF, Wolff said: “We can throw our car in the trash can.

“One team is miles ahead. They play with the competition – they don’t even have tyre wear,” he added.

Another option for Mercedes is simply to scrap the ‘no sidepods’ concept and try a more Red Bull or Aston Martin-style approach.

“That could be done,” Wolff said. “But you can’t just merrily put sidepods on the car, it’s all about the airflow.

“Our car is lean but not fast.

“Last year, our car got better and better and then won races. That’s why we decided to stick with the concept.

“Then you start a new season and suddenly you see that nothing works.”

Former Red Bull driver David Coulthard is surprised about Wolff’s “brutal” condemnation of the new Mercedes after just a single race in 2023.

“The car has only been alive for six days – a few days of testing, three days in Bahrain. I don’t know where he’s coming from with that,” he told Channel 4.

“It’s like a big kick in the whatnots for a design team. But yeah, they’ve got a completely different strategy with the sidepods. They clearly have to try and follow the pack now.”

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