David Coulthard says that Toto Wolff’s assessment of the W14 car is a “blow” to Mercedes’ Formula 1 design team.
At the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Wolff conceded that its unique car concept, which features a narrow sidepod construction, wouldn’t make the team competitive in the future.
“I don’t think this package is going to be competitive eventually,” he said.
“We gave it our best go over the winter and now we need to regroup, sit down with the engineers, who are totally not dogmatic about anything, there are no holy cows, and decide what is the development direction that we want to pursue in order to be competitive to win races.”
Mercedes qualified sixth and seventh respectively for the race in Sakhir, but was outpaced by Red Bull, Ferrari and Aston Martin during the weekend.
Speaking to Channel 4, Coulthard says that Wolff’s comments will be a major kick to Mercedes’ design set-up.
“I think it was brutal,” he said. “This car has only been alive for six days, a few days of testing, three days here. I don’t know where he’s coming from with that.
“But yeah, they’ve got a completely different strategy with the sidepods. They clearly have to try and follow the pack now. But that is like a big kick in the whatnots for design team.”
Max Verstappen dominated the race and cruised to the race win, while both Mercedes drivers were involved in a fierce fight with Fernando Alonso during the 57 laps.
While Coulthard acknowledges that Red Bull is currently the class of the field, he says Mercedes shouldn’t yet be so pessimistic over its prospects for the season.
“I think it will have confirmed that relative to the winning car,” he said. “Max won that at an absolute canter.
“Relative to being defined as best of the rest, potentially they are. OK, [Charles] Leclerc didn’t finish but it’s not as bad as he sort of stated after qualifying.”