Toto Wolff denies Mercedes took a ‘stupid pill’

Mercedes finished third in the constructors’ championship in 2022, ending a run of eight triumphs in a row.

Going into the new era of Formula One in 2022 was always going to be difficult for teams to get right, and while it was not guaranteed that Mercedes would retain their constructors’ championship for a ninth year, it was expected that they would at least come close.

As it turned out, a porpoising problem early in the season saw the team lose six months’ worth of development to their rivals, as fixing the issue took top priority due to the pain that it was causing both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

The loss of development time rendered the Silver Arrows uncompetitive for the majority of the season, only becoming worthy of race wins after the team brought major upgrades to the United States Grand Prix in Austin.

Speaking on the Beyond the Grid podcast, team principal Toto Wolff has explained that his team simply got the concept of the new regulations wrong, and that no-one is refusing to take blame for the team’s shortcomings.

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“It is very easy – we got the concept wrong. We underestimated the effect when running the car very low and others did a better job,” explained Wolff.

“We haven’t suddenly taken a stupid pill [and gone from] winning the constructors’ championship last December and then in March being nowhere.

“But in the organisation, nobody is shy to say that we have done a bad job here. It is very easy.

“There is no hiding, there is no seeking for an explanation of how we ended up there. All of us are saying that we got this very wrong and others got it very right.”

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The Austrian has claimed that he is confident of 2022 being a one off failure, rather than being the beginning of a period in the shadows for Mercedes, like Red Bull and Ferrari have experienced in the past decade.

Wolff has explained that title droughts often come as a result of a major change in staff or drivers, like Sebastian Vettel leaving Red Bull or the change of management at Ferrari, while Mercedes structurally and financially remain the same.

Lewis Hamilton is set to sign a multi-year contract extension over the winter break, which hints at the fact that Mercedes are confident of providing their drivers with a title challenging car in 2023, as the Brit hunts for a record breaking eighth world championship.