Toto Wolff addresses Damon Hill concerns as he outlines Mercedes plan

Hamilton opens up on plans to remain in F1 ahead of new season

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Toto Wolff has rejected Damon Hill’s concerns as he outlined further details on Mercedes’ plan to build a new concept. Wolff stressed the team would decide on a direction within “days” and push all resources into one idea.

He denied that Mercedes would develop two cars at the same time but accepted it would be tough to close the gap with Red Bull. Wolff also pushed back on Hill’s theory that the Silver Arrows could be caught out by budget cap restraints under FIA rules.

Wolff explained: “It’s extremely difficult to catch such an advantage [to Red Bull], but it’s what we need to do. We have no choice.

“I’m not sure the budget cap really gives you constraints in the position where we are because we just need to decide which direction we’re going and put all the resources behind it. I don’t think we’re constrained by the budget cap.

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“We’re not going to develop two cars side-by-side, but we’re going to develop one car and we will decide that in the next days and weeks which car that will be.” Teams must follow a strict £102million ($135m) cost cap limit with penalties handed out to any rulebreakers.

Red Bull breached the 2021 budget cap and were slapped with a 10 per cent wind tunnel sanction awarded.

Hill suggested Mercedes would be unable to keep developing new ideas as this would risk burning finances needed to stay within the regulations.

He said: “With the cost cap involved in from one now they can’t just go back to the factory and spend a lot of money and redesign a car because that will also imply they have to abandon what they think they know and go and follow others who have gone in a different direction and they don’t have any information on all of that, they don’t have the wind tunnel knowledge.

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“So bit of a problem now for Mercedes, they might have to just plug on with what they’ve got and prove everyone wrong with their design.” Mercedes stuck with a similar concept for their W14 after getting to the bottom of the porpoising issues which plagued them in 2022.

However, they continued to struggle in Bahrain and even slipped further back into the midfield behind Ferrari and Aston Martin. Team boss Wolff challenged Silver Arrows engineers to develop a new blueprint after accepting the squad may have made a mistake.

Karun Chandhok likened Mercedes’ situation to Aston Martin last year, who ditched their model to follow Red Bull’s design. The British marquee initially struggled to understand the system but turned a corner this year to challenge right at the sharp end.

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