“We are more stuck than before” – Wolff
Toto Wolff says the current era of Formula 1 cars have proven themselves to be poor to drive with the focus on which teams can produce the least bad chassis.
Red Bull has dominated under the new technical regulations that re-introduced ground effect and put a lot of emphasis on performance from the floor, with Sergio Perez’s double victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix ensuring it has won every race and Sprint so far this season.
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Wolff says Mercedes’ weakness is not due to its downforce levels but how the car handles, something he says is a frustration about the current rules.
“I think for our car it is more about the ride control than sheer downforce,” Wolff said. “We could put a lot of downforce on the car but the car would be too low and too stiff. (Red Bull) you can see on the onboard, the car is barely moving on the straights or over bumps, corner balance looks easy and you look at all the other onboards and the cars are tricky. So I think generally the ground effect cars are s*** cars, it’s just who has the least s******st is ahead.”
While Wolff is unsure how long it will take for the field to eventually converge towards closer performance levels, he says he doesn’t want to see the regulations changed to try and address Red Bull’s advantage.
“There is always the risk when you look at these cycles if a team is so far ahead, I think (in Baku) they were 20 seconds ahead of Leclerc and after 40 racing laps, so that’s half a second a lap. But at least we have seen they are pushing.
“Half a second is quite a long way to go. Either we have to do a better job all together to catch them up, or change the regulations, but I don’t think we should be doing the second one. So we need to win on merit, and winning on merit means being more clever. Having a steeper development slope than Red Bull.
“I think we can close it. If we get the platform right, it is less about adding ten points of downforce and more about giving the drivers a car that when they turn it into a corner they know the rear doesn’t overtake them. That’s the problem. Then we can catch up, but as we did last year it is better not to change the regulations again, as we did on our initiative to lose it again.”
Stating a belief that Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari were all of the same performance in Baku, Wolff also says the cost cap – while better for F1 overall – limits how quickly the trio can hope to catch up.
“We are more stuck than before because if you would be completely free we would bring a different chassis. So what we have to really decide carefully is what we want to upgrade. So we have a new front suspension for Imola, and then the aero upgrade that comes with it and floor.
“But if we were free we would bring double the amount of upgrades, but so would the others. It’s a relative game and you just need to be clever and taking the right decisions that bring the optimum amount of performance.”