Toto Wolff has hinted that Mercedes may be about to copy the example of Red Bull to get Lewis Hamilton, and the team, back on track. The Silver Arrows enjoyed one of their best weekends of a torrid 2022 season in Canada, with Hamilton securing a podium finish behind winner Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz.
George Russell meanwhile, was fourth, continuing his consistent run of a top-five finish in every Grand Prix so far this season. But the ‘Silver Arrows’ were still plagued by the issue of porpoising, with the FIA agreeing last week to address the issue after Hamilton voiced safety concerns.
And despite mass experimentation already this season, the notion remains that the Constructors’ champions remain way off the pace set by Verstappen’s team and Ferrari. And Wolff, 50, has now candidly admitted Mercedes have looked at the design of the RB18 ahead of next season, and may copy the model to accelerate airflow underneath the car and increase downforce.
“I think before you start on next season, you need to understand what the problem is,” Wolff told Sky Sports, when asked if the team planned to modify the W13 cars in 2023. “I think what was interesting to see here, when you compare the ride height of the cars, [is that] Red Bull has been a massive outlier, it actually has rake again in the car, [whereas] we are on the far end, with a car that’s flat on the ground.”
And the Austrian, who has been defensive of Hamilton’s indifferent form, then strongly implied that Mercedes would attempt to achieve a similar effect in the next campaign, adding: “So you look at the stopwatch, and you know what’s the way to go.”
The seven-time world champion will be determined to put up a good showing and the next race, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on July 3. It’s a venue where he’s triumphed eight times, including last season despite being penalised for a collision with Verstappen.
But regardless, any hopes of challenging for an unprecedented eighth world crown appear long gone. The British driver currently sits sixth in the standings on 77 points, a full 98 behind Verstappen.
Russell meanwhile, is fourth on 111. And whether anyone can catch the Dutchman this year looks increasingly unlikely, with the reigning champion having opened up a 46-point gap between him and teammate Sergio Perez in second place.