Toto Wolff sends Lewis Hamilton warning about upcoming season

Mercedes have reportedly kept their 'zero sidepods' for 2023 but have solved the issues that cost them last season.

Whilst Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is “super determined” to see the Silver Arrows at the front come the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, he is aware that they may still be some way behind Red Bull should they fail to ‘unlock’ what the W14 is capable of in the pre-season.

Many have predicted that Mercedes will return to the top in 2023, on the back of their disastrous 2022 campaign, which saw them slump to third in the Constructors’ Championship.

Things are looking up for the Germans, though, ahead of the new season, following reports that the Brackley-based team have grasped an understanding of what cost them so dearly last year, and, most importantly, how the issues can be fixed.

Whilst this positive news has led to the expectation that Mercedes will be back amongst Red Bull and Ferrari come Bahrain, Wolff is remaining cautious and believes the team needs to “set our expectations at a realistic level”.

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“I think we have understood how we fell back, where the shortcomings are, and where we have gaps in understanding,” explained Wolff.

“We’re working hard on putting a car on the ground that has addressed all of that. But we will only see when starting testing whether we have unlocked the potential that we believe has always been in the car.

“We have no doubt, when you’re starting behind by half a second, that it’s going to be difficult to catch up to such great organisations like Red Bull, or Ferrari.

“Now, having said that, we are super determined in doing just that. But we need to set our expectations at a realistic level.”

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Mercedes’ 2023 challenger is believed to look very similar to the woeful 2022; however, fundamental tweaks that can’t be seen on the eye have supposedly been made underneath the chassis, with the side having high hopes in particular regarding their power unit.

Wolff is hopeful that they’ll be at the front from the start of the season with their being “so much potential” with their design philosophy, something which could see the Silver Arrows enjoy a ‘steep’ “development slope”.

“If we perform in the way we hope, then we’d like to be part of the racing at the very front,” he added.

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“I think that would be a starting point.

“But we don’t take that for granted. It could well be that the gaps are like they were at the end of last season.

“I think there is so much potential still that within our car, within the concept, the way we drive the car, etc, that maybe our development slope can be steeper in the months to come.”