Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff says that Mercedes could change its unique narrow sidepod design going forward but asserted that its poor performance in 2022 was not “fundamentally” down to the concept.
The Austrian’s comments come after the eight-time championship-winning team unveiled its 2023 challenger, the W14, which features a similar sidepod concept to the one they introduced last season.
Mercedes took just one victory through George Russell in a tough campaign as the German side got off to a difficult start under the revised technical regulations, but he and team-mate Lewis Hamilton did manage to push Ferrari for second in the championship as their form gradually improved.
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Speaking on the decision to retain the sidepods this season, Wolff declared himself “proud” of the progress the team made in 2022.
“It is important to be bold in this sport,” he explained. “I am proud of the solutions we put into the car last year, it is not fundamentally the reason that we didn’t perform.”
However, the 51-year-old suggested that the sidepods might evolve as the 2023 campaign wears on.
“There are no holy cows in our concept,” added Wolff. “It’s not that we don’t want to follow anybody’s idea. We stayed with the narrow sidepod, but you could see developments which could come with upgrades. The sidepods will change – not soon, but we are looking at solutions.
“It is not a core, fundamental part of performance. Last year we learned a tough lesson because we knew that we would bring an upgrade package for test number two that was worth 1.5 seconds.
“You then look at the first test and think it’s not relevant because it’s not the real car. But we put it on the track and it wasn’t performing at all as we expected.
“This year, we went the other way around. What you have seen is, in large parts, the car we will test and race.
“It is fundamentally important to understand the platform and how the car behaves, rather than keeping bits in the background that may give a tenth or two in aero performance.”