Toto Wolff has hit back at claims from the Red Bull camp that Mercedes’ new car is affected by ‘porpoising’.
Last year, the former championship-dominant team struggled throughout the season as Formula 1’s new ‘ground effect’ era began.
The biggest problem was the phenomenon described as ‘porpoising’ or jumping, caused by a constant aerodynamic stalling underneath the car.
Mercedes boss Wolff admits the team still has “a lot of question” about its 2023 car ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain GP.
But the good news, as he told Osterreich newspaper, is that “our car doesn’t jump and that’s a good start”.
However, just days ago Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko alleged that both Mercedes and Ferrari were still struggling with porpoising in pre-season testing.
“No, he is wrong,” Wolff insisted. “If he saw cars bouncing, it wasn’t ours.”
What Wolff does admit, however, is that Red Bull “have the fastest car”.
“On the other hand, they didn’t show everything in the tests and we haven’t cranked it up yet either. That’s why it’s all just coffee grind reading so far,” said the Austrian.
“In three days we’ll know what’s what.”
What won’t become clear over the season-opening race weekend, however, is whether Lewis Hamilton will agree a new contract with Mercedes for 2024.
When asked specifically if another defeat to the younger George Russell will end the seven time world champion’s career, Wolff answered: “Lewis is motivated and in good shape, both mentally and physically.
“He wants to fight for victories more often again, and that’s primarily about beating the Red Bulls.”
When asked yet again to address the issue of contract negotiations, Wolff added: “We have a whole racing year to do that.
“All we have to do is take the old contract and adjust a few details.”