Mercedes will find it ‘Difficult’ to Close Gap to Red Bull early in 2023 – Toto Wolff

Toto Wolff says the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team may still be behind Oracle Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari when the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season gets underway in Bahrain.

Mercedes were around half a second down on their rivals during the 2022 season and Team Principal Wolff says it will be difficult for them to quickly claw their way back to the front of the field. 

They scored only one race victory and took only one pole position in 2022 – both courtesy of George Russell – a very different season to what they were expecting after winning eight consecutive Constructors’ Championships between 2014 and 2021. Pre-season

And heading into 2023, Mercedes are looking to regain that kind of form again, but Wolff remains realistic and acknowledges it will be difficult to close that gap.

“I think we have understood how we fell back, where the shortcomings are, and where we have gaps in understanding,” Wolff is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.

“We’re working hard on putting a car on the ground that has addressed all of that. But we will only see when starting testing whether we have unlocked the potential that we believe has always been in the car.

“We have no doubt, when you’re starting behind by half a second, that it’s going to be difficult to catch up to such great organisations like Red Bull, or Ferrari.

“Now, having said that, we are super determined in doing just that. But we need to set our expectations at a realistic level.”

Wolff does have hope that Mercedes can start the 2023 season with a stronger car than they began the 2022 season with, but he will not take the fact that they will be frontrunners for granted, and he admits the gap might still be too big to be at the very front.

“If we perform in the way we hope, then we’d like to be part of the racing at the very front,” Wolff said. “I think that would be a starting point.  But we don’t take that for granted.

“It could well be that the gaps are like they were at the end of last season.  I think there is so much potential still that within our car, within the concept, the way we drive the car, etc, that maybe our development slope can be steeper in the months to come.”