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"No such thing as a concept being wrong," insists Wolff

NEWS STORY
27/04/2022

Denying that the W13's design is fundamentally flawed, Mercedes team boss, Toto Wolff is unwilling to give up on the car's unique sidepod design... yet.

While the W13 is not the only car to suffer the porpoising phenomenon, it does appear to be one of the worst affected, and in the aftermath of Sunday's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, as doubts are raised over the futures of Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff, it is clear that the world champions must stop the rot... and soon.

While the team's unique approach to its sidepods grabbed the headlines when revealed in pre-season testing, the degree to which the W13 is suffering porpoising has raised questions due to the fact that the design leaves a large area of the floor unsupported which in turn leads to flexing under load, thereby sealing the airflow and causing the phenomenon.

""That is a valid point," says Wolff, according to Speedcafe. "All of the goodness and badness happens mainly on the floor, as it stands at the moment.

"We have interesting ideas and concepts that we are trying and realise that we are exploring, that have to find its way onto the car, and in the next few races, so we can make a call," he adds.

Though nobody at Mercedes is willing to admit that the sidepods are at the root of the W13's ills, Wolff is clearly unwilling to give up on the concept... yet.

"There is no such thing as a concept being wrong," he says, "but is there a part of what we have done that just simply doesn't work with the regulations, and what is it?

"You don't need to throw away the goodness, you can keep the goodness," he adds, "but if there are fundamental areas that don't allow us to unlock the potential that we believe is in the car, well then obviously we need to cut your losses."

However, the days when teams could return to the drawing board and produce a 'B-spec' car are long gone, especially with the budget cap in place.

Indeed, there may come a point when the team gives up on 2022 entirely and switches focus to 2023 and with that in mind, Wolff admits, that a turnaround in approach in terms of the W13, is not the work of a moment.

"It would mean you say 'okay, where's the baseline?' Is there a new baseline where we can start upon where we believe that we can unlock more potential," says the Austrian. "Well, if we would have thought that, we would have done it five months ago.

"We believe that this is the development direction that we need to take," he adds, "so it's quite a tricky exercise. And before we take such a decision, we need to really continue in the science and continue in finding out what it is, because only then you can actually say 'okay, cut the losses, switch to next year' if you understand why you got it wrong, and at the moment we simply don't, not yet."

Despite the misery of Imola, Hamilton shares the Austrian's view of the situation.

"I can't say whether the car is flawed, the concept is flawed, I'm not an aerodynamicist," says the seven-time champion. "At some stage, we will have a better understanding of whether that is the case or not, or whether we are in the right. Maybe all of a sudden we fix the bouncing and we unlock more potential.

"So it's difficult to write it off anytime soon because everyone's continuing to work. But hopefully it comes to light soon, one way or another, whichever way it is, and then we can start putting our focus on to the solution, because we haven't found the solution yet.

"Of course, I want to be fighting for the world championship, but unfortunately that's not the case," he admits. "We have to accept the reality in which we're faced with and that's what we do as racers, we just keep fighting."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by kenji, 30/04/2022 11:16

"@Elsiebc....'and that's good for the sport?' Well, yes it is. I would've thought that all the 'new woke social brigades infesting F1' would welcome the 'equality' aspect of the cost cap.It also contributes to the 'non discriminatory' aspect as no longer are some teams treated as 'also rans' whose race potential was totally governed by expenditure. And don't forget the 'inclusivity angle as well....they're all in with equal spends across the board. Despite that though the bigger teams can still spend humungous amounts on marketing and driver salaries an area which also needs to be looked at."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by elsiebc, 29/04/2022 14:18

""The days when teams could return to the drawing board and produce a 'B-spec' car are long gone, especially with the budget cap in place." And that's good for the sport? "

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3. Posted by Spindoctor, 29/04/2022 10:24

" I've no idea what Mercedes' "concept" was\is but my guess is that it revolves around a really fast, stable car. "The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley" as Rabbie remarked & clearly the Reality hasn't quite lived up to the concept....

The big downside of current Regulations is that when there's a major change, it's a bit of a lottery: some win, others lose - just as Mercedes won big last time around or RBR in the one before that. In previous eras, Mercedes would have gone away and like Ferrari, Brawn & Schumacher did; they'd test\refine\test until they had a usable car.

I'm moderately confident that at best we'll see an RBR\Ferrari duopoly until 2026 (at worst an RBR walk-over) with Mercedes gradually improving..."

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4. Posted by ARL, 28/04/2022 14:05

"Lifeboat strategy on the Titanic comes to mind as a less than right concept. Or the Lotus 80, 30, 40, 76, McLaren M28, Life L190 W12, Porsche engine for the Footwork A11C (C*ap?)....."

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5. Posted by kenji, 28/04/2022 10:27

"A concept is an 'abstract idea' and that of itself is questionable when it comes to mastering the art of 'the laws of physics and aerodynamics and how both interact with each other under certain conditions. Then there is the history of concepts and that relationship to commodities, the realitry of the marketplace. The name 'Edsel' springs to mind......An interesting sidenote was the question put to Horner by Kravitz at Imola when he asked Horner if they could detect 'porpoising' in the simulator, to which Horner replied, 'yes we can'? At least that's what I understood him to say but if I'm wrong I'm sure someone will correct me. "

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6. Posted by Lapps, 28/04/2022 8:19

"Well Toto, if it isn’t the concept it must be the execution. But what was that old saying about silk purses and sows ears?"

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7. Posted by Malemoi, 27/04/2022 17:53

"Pesonally I think those sod pods are an issue. Rush of mega downforce that is not sustained "

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8. Posted by jcr, 27/04/2022 16:21

"The great Keith Duckworth said many moons ago,
"Upgrades and developments only mean the designer got it wrong in the first place"
Not a lot has changed,"

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9. Posted by Rock Doc, 27/04/2022 16:17

"When the Merc's released their skinny sidepods and extra wing above there was talk about whether it was legal or not. But all the other teams just looked at it and then moved on.

At the time I wondered why they did not fight it more or questions it legality more. Now I suspect they realized it was not the way to go at the time. I'm wondering how long it will take for Toto and the team to realize it as well."

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10. Posted by Max Noble, 27/04/2022 15:41

"Miss Physics currently has hiccups as a result of excessive (convulsive) laughing over this one… Oh, and the AMG-Merc Schrödinger’s cat is purring happily on her knee as they both enjoy a relaxed afternoon tea, and scones. Oh, wait. Is that a can of Red Bull half hidden behind the teapot?"

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