Mercedes boss throws the towel on the 2023 F1 season, shares timeline by which the team could return to the top
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff claims it could take around a year for the team to catch up to Red Bull due to the German team's woeful start to the season.
The boys from Brackley have started the 2023 season on the back foot compared to frontrunners Red Bull.
The expectation that the struggles of Mercedes in the 2022 season were a one-time occurrence has proven to be overly optimistic, as the W14 has been beset by similar performance issues to its predecessor.
There is a small glimmer of hope in that the team has a solid foundation to build upon for the future, as the car does not exhibit the same porpoising issues. However, there are rumors of significant changes on the horizon, with the team reportedly considering abandoning their 'zeropod' side pods in favor of a design more akin to Red Bull's.
Toto Wolff believes it could take up to a year for Mercedes to challenge at the top again. As per Motorsport.com:
“I think the length [of time] is probably between six and 12 months, because that’s the time that it really took for us [last year] to figure out what was actually happening with the car."
"That means we just need to have double the development speed, so a stronger development slope. The logic and rational speaks that for Red Bull, their gains are going to be incrementally smaller if the concept is mature."
Prominent F1 journalist feels Mercedes should favor Lewis Hamilton over George Russell
A video that has recently surfaced shows prominent F1 journalist Peter Windsor suggesting that Mercedes should terminate George Russell's contract in order to give Lewis Hamilton preferential treatment.
Since becoming teammates at the start of the 2022 season, both drivers have faced difficulties in achieving their desired level of success due to a lack of a competitive car. While Russell had hoped to regularly contend for victories, the reality has fallen short of his expectations.
Last year, the pair worked together effectively to maximize their points, with Russell emerging as the winner of the intra-team competition against Lewis Hamilton by 35 points at the end of the season. In the current 2023 drivers' standings, Hamilton is leading by just two points over Russell.
Peter Windsor told the Cameron F1 YouTube channel that Mercedes would benefit by ordering George Russell to know his place within the team. He said:
"The problem is George, of course – it's not anything more or less than that. And you've got to remember Lewis wanted to keep Valtteri. So something big happened there in Lewis' mind... They didn't listen to him and they signed George."
"If I was now drafted in as team principal at Mercedes, I would say, 'George, here's the contract, it's in two pieces now mate. If you want to keep driving no problem, sign on the dotted line here and you will never finish in front of Lewis Hamilton. Sorry.'"
With the team's future seemingly in jeopardy in 2023, it will be interesting to see how long it takes for Mercedes to challenge at the top once again.