Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has been having quite a challenging year as the team has not been able to address the porpoising problem on their W13 F1 cars that causes them to bounce pretty badly at high speeds.
Despite the fact that three races of the season are over, Toto claims it doesn’t make sense to bring in any upgrades for the car for next weekend’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix as they are yet to solve outstanding issues.
Many fans have suggested that this is a good time to upgrade the cars before practice begins next weekend. Though Mercedes is left behind by Ferrari in the constructors’ standings, Mercedes still sits in second place despite the porpoising problems, and this is mainly attributed to Red Bull’s lack of reliability.
Coming back to the W13 upgrade, Wolff insisted that they need to unlock the ‘aerodynamic potential’ of the car as a priority, which can be done by going to the root cause of the problem. The team needs more time in assessing the problem so that corrections can be made. Upgrading the car without diagnosing the problem would cause more confusion and trouble than solving the problem.
He said: “We’re just learning the car, we’re learning the tyres. Nothing we did this weekend has unlocked the aerodynamic potential or has reduced the bouncing, we’re still in the same place.
“That’s why it doesn’t make any sense to bring updates because you’re confusing yourself even more. Maybe it’s even the fact that the more downforce you bring, the worse the bouncing gets. So we are still learning.”
Speaking of the timeline, Wolff was unsure when he and his team would get to the root of it, something that could deny them a ninth Constructors’ Championship.
Adding that this was one of the more difficult years of his tenure, Toto said, “I’m optimistic that eventually, we’re going to get there, whether that is in two races or five or by the end of the season, I don’t know. But you need to stay humble.”
My time horizon is not a race weekend or a year. It’s more like 10 years. I want to look back and have a competitive team, and there will be years when it’s more difficult. And this is one.”
While it is a wise thing to learn and adapt to the changes that have come into play this season. But with Toto being rather too flexible with the timeline, is Mercedes being too optimistic in their approach? After all, time is what matters in a race.
Or, is the team being clever and wise by just staying afloat now for now so that it can set a firm foundation for the long haul?