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Toto Wolff "not convinced" about Mercedes' direction in hint at Lewis Hamilton's F1 fate

Mar 31, 2023Mar 31, 2023

Having been so critical of his Mercedes car earlier in the season, Hamilton was thrilled with his upgraded W14 in Barcelona as he and George Russell stormed to the podium

Toto Wolff is reportedly "not convinced" that his Mercedes team has gone in the right direction by reincorporating traditional sidepods into the aerodynamic design of its cars.

The Silver Arrows turned heads by arriving at the beginning of last season with their 'zeropod' design. Clearly, they thought they had spotted a loophole in the regulations they felt would give them an edge.

But that was not the case. Instead, they were uncompetitive for most of the year while Red Bull and Ferrari had the two fastest cars on the grid.

Surprisingly, Mercedes stuck with the concept at the start of this year, apparently convinced the lack of traditional sidepods was not the main cause of their lack of pace.

However, the first few races of 2023 brought only more of the same – and the realisation that something needed to change. And so, In Monaco last month, Mercedes arrived with a more traditional sidepod design and also used them in Barcelona last weekend.

Naturally, they caught the eye when Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished on the podium. On the face of it, the result was evidence that their upgrades had seen them take a significant step forwards in terms of car competitiveness.

But more evidence will be required at the next few races before that conclusion can be reasonably arrived at. Without more evidence, according to experienced F1 journalist Christian Menath, even team principal Wolff still has his doubts.

He told the F1 Nation podcast: "We were talking to [McLaren chief] Andrea Stella, and he was talking about sidepods and why these wide sidepods work better with this generation of cars and bring the best out of the floor because everyone is talking about the floor.

"The floor is the big performance differentiator because 40 per cent of the total downforce is generated by the floor, but the floor has to work and it doesn't work in isolation. So, a Formula 1 car, you always have to look at every single aspect from the front wing to the rear wing, and also from the sidepods.

"Toto said they just wanted to take out something of the equation – he's still not convinced that the concept of these sidepods is the better one, they just wanted to take something out of the equation to be sure where the problem is. But I think that was part of the problem. For me, it's definitely the right direction. But who am I to judge 1,000 engineers in Brackley?"

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