David Coulthard questions Toto Wolff’s concerning comments after Bahrain GP

Mercedes have dropped behind Aston Martin at the start of this season, with their W14 design being uncompetitive so far.

After only scoring a single win last season, it was expected that Mercedes would enter 2023 with a brand new and competitive idea, having learned from the failures of the W13.

Last year’s car struggled with a major porpoising problem and a general lack of performance, therefore leaving fans shocked when the W14 drove out of the garage in Bahrain with a similar design.

The zero sidepod approach was kept by Mercedes for the Bahrain Grand Prix but this was clearly the wrong decision, as the team were beaten by both Red Bulls, Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin and the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz following Charles Leclerc’s DNF.

Toto Wolff has sensationally now admitted that after only one race, Mercedes will now change their development path, potentially ditching the failing zero sidepod approach.

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“I don’t think this package is going to be competitive eventually,” claimed the Austrian after the Bahrain Grand Prix.

“We gave it our best go, also over the winter, and now we just need to all regroup and sit down with the engineers, who are totally not dogmatic about anything.” 

Former F1 driver David Coulthard has been picking apart Mercedes performance over the weekend and has suggested that Wolff’s comments are possibly a bit harsh on the engineers who spent the entire winter designing the W14.

“I think it was brutal. This car has only been alive for six days, a few days of testing, three days here. I don’t know where he’s coming from with that,” he told Channel 4.

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“But yeah, they’ve got a completely different strategy with the sidepods. They clearly have to try and follow the pack now. But that is like a big kick in the whatnots for the design team.”

Aston Martin are powered by Mercedes engines but chose this season to follow Red Bull’s sidepod and general design model, proving that this is the most successful pathway under the current regulations.

Mercedes hope to have upgrades available by the time F1 heads to Imola, with former technical director James Allison reportedly heavily involved in these changes.