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


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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Published: 27/04/2022
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