MARCH 20, 2023
Mercedes to design Red Bull concept car
Toto Wolff insists he is not embarrassed about being "transparent" as Mercedes vows to scrap its unique car concept after just two races in 2023.
"That's what we've been doing for the last ten years, win or lose," the team boss said.
"Our supporters want to know the truth - we have nothing to hide. The news is not so good but we have to continue to communicate."
The 'news', of course, is that Mercedes - and Ferrari - appear to have even fallen behind Aston Martin in their pursuit of the dominant Red Bull team.
"It looks like we will be dominant," Max Verstappen's father Jos told the Dutch publication Formule 1.
"You see how easily they drive away - a second faster," he added. "Can that be caught up this year? I don't know.
"But it's not like we'll stand still, will we? We'll also come with updates."
And so, true to Wolff's policy of transparency, he is not hiding that an updated Mercedes will soon look much more like a Red Bull or Aston Martin.
"You can call it a Red Bull or Aston Martin concept," the Mercedes team boss said. "Even if it looks like a double-decker bus, we will still go for it to make it fast.
"We'd even put a Red Bull sticker on it if they want us to," Wolff smiled.
He admitted, however, that he isn't exactly sure when the Red Bull-style Mercedes will see light of day.
"It's going to be a long process before we can challenge Red Bull," said Wolff, "but it's a really fun process to come back."
In some ways, because Mercedes is now able to switch concepts, the German team's situation looks even better than Ferrari's - whose boss Frederic Vasseur insists that the basic car 'concept' is sound.
As was the case in Bahrain, however, good qualifying pace translated only to extreme tyre degradation in the race in Saudi Arabia.
"Unacceptable," Frenchman Vasseur said. "We need to understand and correct it as soon as possible.
"I just can't imagine a car going to the front row in qualifying and in the race it doesn't go anywhere."
Carlos Sainz, sixth at the flag ahead of Charles Leclerc, said Red Bull, Aston Martin and even Mercedes were "clearly faster".
"I thought before the weekend that we had our problems under control better," said the Spaniard. "But the performance wasn't ok today.
"We'll have to wait for upgrades. We were the fourth car on the track in terms of speed."