Lewis Hamilton accused of making Toto Wolff ‘panic’

Mercedes are set to introduce major upgrades to the W14 once the F1 season enters the European-leg of the campaign.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has been accused of having “already given up”, after the Austrian announced after the opening race of the season that the W14 would see dramatic changes, with a new concept set to be introduced at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

The Silver Arrows have endured a really weird start to the 2023 F1 season, after finding themselves well off the pace in both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Both Lewis Hamilton and Wolff were incredibly critical about the W14’s poor performance, leaving former Bridgestone engineer Kees van der Grint to wonder what the Germans actually did during the winter break.

Van der Grint was actually pleased to see that Mercedes opted to stick with the ‘zero sidepods’ concept, given that their resilience to make the concept work showed that they “had faith” in the design.

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Now, though, the Brackley-based team have very much pulled the handbrake on the concept, with van der Grint believing it’s a sign of “panic” amongst the Germans.

“I liked that they stuck to their concept. They had faith in that. Now you probably think it’s not such a good concept after all,” Van de Grint told the Dutch edition of Motorsport.com.

“Then I think, what did you discuss and analyse in the winter?

“Because this is a late conclusion, if you have to change now and want to change a whole concept.

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“That might say something about the people who left. I think the sounds are more in the panic atmosphere.

“You can also hear that from Wolff, he has actually already given up.”

Fast forward to the Australian Grand Prix, though, and Mercedes’ performance was actually very strong, with Hamilton and George Russell having been the closest drivers to Max Verstappen.

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Hamilton and Russell even led the race early on for a few laps each, suggesting that the W14’s current concept isn’t quite as bad as it’s being made out to be.

As a result, van der Grint wonders if Wolff is playing mind games, with the Bridgestone expert believing that perhaps the team boss is “quietly” hoping that the current concept continues to ramp up in performance, making a new concept unnecessary.

“But, that is of course also a bit of a feint because he (Wolff) quietly hopes that things will work out somehow,” he added.