Toto Wolff Admits Mercedes F1 Can’t Fix 2021 Weakness by Copying Red Bull

Published 03/27/2021, 3:10 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in action during practice REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed


It appears that Mercedes F1 have diagnosed the root cause of the problems that affected them in pre-season testing. The W12 appeared to have handling issues and didn’t appear to be the near flawless machine, most of its recent predecessors have been.

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Team boss Toto Wolff thinks this is due to the aero changes they have had to make to the floor of the car in order to help Pirelli’s new tires. However, the fact that the Mercedes car is a low-raked one, unlike rivals Red Bull, has cut a lot more downforce on the W12 than their rivals’ RB16B.

According to Wolff, this isn’t a problem that can be solved by simply adopting Red Bull’s high-rake approach.

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The Austrian team principal of the Brackley-based outfit said, “I don’t think that the rake is the only singular effect that we may be suffering from, [because] there are new tyres that we are racing in 2021 and we haven’t even started.

Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – Mercedes’ Team Principal Toto Wolff during the press conference FIA/Handout via REUTERS.

“But definitely our analyses have shown that the high-rake concept has lost less downforce than the lower rake, and in the last year of these regulations we wouldn’t be able to replicate the concept that Red Bull and some of the other teams have been racing.”

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A change from low rake to high rake would take a substantial change in the car’s suspensions and chassis. That’s obviously not possible to alter now that the season is beginning in a day’s time. However, the freeze in regulations meant Mercedes couldn’t alter it in the off-season either.

Formula One F1. Pre-Season Testing. Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain. Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in action during testing REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Wolff said, “It’s physically not possible. We couldn’t run our suspensions and settings in the way that Red Bull does, and so we need to do the best out of it and tune the car with what we have available.”

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All said and done, the Silver Arrows didn’t look too bad during the first two free practice sessions though. Although they didn’t top the time sheets, Lewis Hamilton ended the two sessions in fourth and second quickest, respectively. His teammate Valtteri Bottas finished the day in second and fifth, respectively.

So, things aren’t all that bad. However, the real pace of the W12 will only be revealed during qualifying. But possible future recruit George Russell isn’t very optimistic about the Silver Arrows’ chances.

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Will we have a title fight on our hands this year? We shall soon find out.

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Ronan Carvalho

1063 articles

Ronan Carvalho is senior F1 author for Essentiallysports. Ronan is currently pursuing his Journalism degree from St. Xavier's College.

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