Toto Wolff makes concerning admission about Mercedes copying Red Bull

Mercedes scrapped their 'zero-sidepod' philosophy at the 2023 Monaco GP, where they introduced a new concept.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has admitted that the Silver Arrows tested a Red Bull-style sidepod design in the wind tunnel but were disappointed by the results.

The Brackley-based team famously ran their ‘zero-sidepod’ design from the start of 2022 until the 2023 Miami Grand Prix, before changing their concept drastically at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Since Monaco, Mercedes have run a sidepod design similar to Red Bull’s, although it’s not an exact replica.

Other teams like McLaren have copied Red Bull more drastically, an avenue Mercedes did consider.

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However, Wolff revealed that when they tested a sidepod design almost identical to Red Bull, the results showed a “substantial” loss of downforce.

Mercedes scrapped the idea of completely copying Red Bull, only for recent performances by McLaren to make the side rethink their development strategy.

“We had the sidepod concept and the bodywork in the tunnel very early on already, to see which avenues you could open up and how much it would add to performance,” Wolff told

“And the relative loss of downforce, the way we measure it, was substantial. So, it’s not something that we wanted to follow up early in the year.  

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“Will we change our design direction? I think we have a great group of aerodynamicists led by James [Allison] and I’m sure that it will be a consideration seeing the step they [McLaren] made.” 

Despite Mercedes now considering if they do need to copy Red Bull more precisely, Wolff believes the Germans need to spend more time improving the underside of their car, given that this is where “most of the performance comes from”.

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“The sidepods and the bodywork are just one part of the chassis, and it clearly looks like there are interesting solutions that it opens up,” Wolff said. 

“But most of the performance comes from the floor and the diffuser, and we haven’t seen how they interpreted the regulations and how they’ve done it.  

“In my opinion, it’s just the fact that we see that the strong cars look a little bit the same when you look from the side and from top down, and certainly that played in our minds already back in the day. Maybe that’s just more an indication about where it goes.”