Mercedes is unable to run its 2022 car in the manner its wants to so far this season, team principal Toto Wolff admits.
After eight consecutive years winning the constructors’ championship, Mercedes has struggled so far this year despite introducing a radically updated car at the final pre-season test.
The unique sidepod design turned heads but so far the team has been comfortably off the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari, and Wolff says the car can’t be lowered to its intended ride-height due to issues with porpoising.
“I think we are not running the car where we are wanting to run it, therefore it is very difficult to really assess what the lap time deficit is if we were able to run a car lower,” Wolff said. “I would very much hope that the gap is much closer to what we’ve seen but there are deficits everywhere.”
The opening two races have seen Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc engage in thrilling battles for victory – taking one win apiece – and Wolff sees the battle as good for Formula 1 but difficult for Mercedes to be watching from the outside.
“We had the luxury of being right in those fun games for the last eight years. Luxury is the wrong word – we were right in the middle of those fun games at the front. I’m talking as an F1 stakeholder and benefiting from a great show that is really spectacular and spectacular to look at. But on the other side it is extremely painful to not be part of those fun games and with quite a chunk lap time deficit.
“We’re not going to rest until we’re back in the mix. But you’re absolutely right, it’s no fun at all to… It’s an exercise in humility and it’s going to make us stronger at the end, even though it’s not fun right now.”
Wolff admits the 2022 season is shaping up to be a good one from the sport’s perspective given the positive impact the new rules have made on the ability to race each other more closely.
“I think they have achieved what they wanted to achieve – spectacular racing, good overtaking. The grid has been shaken up, this is less fun for us, but it happened.
“The midfield is extremely close, so overall from the entertainment factor, I’m happy about the hype around F1, they have achieved the target. You can only applaud to how that all came in.”