Toto Wolff warns Lewis Hamilton of potentially ‘another problem’

2022 was the first time in the turbo-hybrid era that Mercedes didn't win the Constructors' Championship, ending an eight-year streak.

Whether Mercedes are going to be a title contender this year or not is a question that is being asked by many, with the Silver Arrows having endured their worst campaign of the hybrid era last season.

Nobody could’ve predicted that the dominant Germans would fall to third in the standings, after so many years of obliterating the competition.

That was the situation they found themselves in, though, with the Brackley-based outfit having made a bit of a mess of the new aerodynamic regulations.

The team’s 2022 challenger was awarded the title of being a ‘diva’, with its performance having varied not only at each Grand Prix, but in every single session.

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There were times during the season where Lewis Hamilton and George Russell found themselves towards the top during free practice, before finding themselves outside the top five in qualifying.

Returning to the front in 2023 is the Germans target, with the side having worked relentlessly over the winter to understand and solve what cost them so dearly in 2022.

With that in mind, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is confident that this season “is going to be easier”; however, he’s aware that the side might not necessarily “win straight from the get-go”.

“We believe that we solved the underlying problem of the bouncing but not all of that could have been done on the 2022 car. So, we believe that it is going to be easier next year [2023],” Wolff told Formula 1’s ‘Beyond the Grid’ podcast.

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“We are changing some of the architecture and the layout of the car that should point us in the right direction. But as it is with these new regulations, sometimes you uncover one problem and then you realise there was another underneath.

“So, we have to be humble and not feel a sense of entitlement that we are going to get back into this championship and win straight from the get-go. So, I’m really looking forward to it.”

Mercedes’ departing chief strategist James Vowles is confident that Mercedes are on the mend, having managed to reduce the gap to Ferrari and Red Bull in the second half of last season.

The new Williams boss is aware that the team can’t solve all the W13’s issues over one winter break, but that they are still making progress to push them “further forward”.

“I don’t think you can truly now or even across the winter state that we know everything about the W13,” admitted Vowles on Mercedes’ YouTube channel.

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“We clearly across the year, every time we learned something, discovered a whole series of new items that really we had to learn, understand, and develop very quickly.

“If you look at the direction moving forward, the gaps to the front, especially on race pace, we made huge amounts of progress, and you only do that by understanding where your problems are, working on them, and working as a team.

“Is it enough to win next year, which is really where that question goes. The confidence we have is that we now have our tools.

“Our wind tunnel tools, our development tools, our performance tools here in the organisation, producing performance which is more than our competitors. It is allowing us to move further forward, relative to them.”