2022 has been by far the Mercedes F1 Team’s worst in the hybrid era, with the Silver Arrows eight-year run of winning the Constructors’ Championship all but certain to come to an end.
The year has been Mercedes’ worst nightmare, with the side having been playing catch-up to Red Bull Racing and Ferrari all season so far.
The German team hasn’t even won a race yet, putting their record of winning at least one race every season since 2012 at serious risk.
With both titles completely out of the question despite eight races still remaining, including this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix, Mercedes are preparing to make a massive decision.
The team’s 2023 car, named the W14, is in its early stages of being built, with the team set to decide over the “next few weeks” whether it will be an evolution of this season’s W13, or a completely brand-new concept.
Either decision would be a huge gamble for Mercedes, with the option to try and improve an already struggling car, or to take the risk and start from scratch again.
The latter option could go one of two ways; it could either be a piece of genius and see the team back at the front winning races consistently, or it could send the team even further into the midfield.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff labelled the decision as a “very difficult situation”, with the team desperate to go in the best “direction” possible for next season.
“It’s a very difficult situation because we obviously have a certain concept of the  car, and it’s not like we can experiment a lot this year and simply [try] stuff out and test,” said Wolff during the Belgian Grand Prix.
“So whatever we decide for next year, it needs to be carefully evaluated because our data doesn’t give us the results, doesn’t correlate with the reality.
“We have massive swings in performance that we can’t really get on top of. In this very moment to take a decision for next year, whatever it may be, changing the concept dramatically, how can you be sure that’s the better direction to go?”
Mercedes are still having “internal discussions” on whether to keep the current concept of the ‘no side-pods side-pods’, which caused a huge stir at the pre-season test in Bahrain.
Wolff is aware that moving away from that design philosophy could see the team start a “little way back”, but that at the moment anything is on the table.
“Is it the chassis in its current shape? What is that [going to be in 2023]? Is it weight distribution? Is it where you can put the mechanical and the aero balance? Is it a bodywork concept?” Wolff asked.
“All these are different pillars of the car, which are evaluated and it could mean that some of them go, some of them stay, and that’s what we are looking at the moment.”
It is a race against time for the Brackley-based team to make a number of decisions, with most teams set to introduce high-downforce updates prior to the flyaway races due to the upcoming circuits demands.
This will give us an idea of the direction Mercedes are considering for 2023, with a number of the parts likely to then feature on the 2023 car due to the budget cap.
“There’s various cut-off points relating to these various parts of the car that happen really in the next few weeks” Wolff explained.
“You’ve got to commit to a chassis concept, you’ve got to commit to a suspension layout, et cetera. And how do you do your cooling? Where do you place your radiators, how to integrate the engine? That is something which we need to decide really in the next weeks.”