Wolff would understand Hamilton’s departure in the absence of a strong car: “Then he has to look everywhere”

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Wolff would understand Hamilton's departure in the absence of a strong car:

Toto Wolff thinks Lewis Hamilton will just stay loyal to his team, but the team boss wouldn’t be surprised if the seven-time world champion, on the hunt for eight, takes refuge elsewhere when Mercedes fails to deliver a competitive car in the short term. build. The Austrian also thinks it is important to understand that the current concept of the W14 will not work, and talks about the changes that he believes need to be made.

At the press conference in Jeddah, Wolff says he is not afraid of Hamilton leaving. “I trust that he will continue to drive with us after this season. We have a strong bond. There is no reason to doubt each other, even though we are now in a difficult period,” said the team boss, who does not attach too much importance to the harsh words his driver recently spoke. ‘That has been said in the emotion, and that is part of the team. I just want us to have emotions within our team. We know what he meant.’

Although the British driver’s contract expires at the end of this season, Wolff is not afraid of losing his driver by then. “I have no idea what is said in the silly season, I only know where we stand with Lewis and with George, nothing else is relevant. We talk about when we want to do it and how, but we just need to change some terms. The data, actually’, he mentions that there is really only a moment that needs to be set for the negotiations.

“I don’t think Lewis will leave Mercedes,” said the team boss. “He is at the stage of his career where we trust each other. We have formed a great bond among ourselves and we have no reason to doubt each other, even though this is a difficult time. It will be so beautiful when we come out of this vale of tears and deliver solid performances again’, the Austrian thinks that the feeling of success will only be more beautiful after this miserable period.

‘Then he has to look everywhere’

Still, he does not rule out Hamilton choosing eggs for his money when Mercedes takes too long to build a competitive car. “If he wants to win another championship as a driver, he has to make sure he has the car. And if we can’t prove that we can give him a car in the next few years, then he’ll have to look everywhere. I don’t think he’s doing it at this stage, but I won’t hold a grudge if that happens in a year or two.’

Flip car concept

Wolff has an idea of ​​how the car should be developed to get that competitive car. ‘I’m mainly talking about a different approach to how we generate downforce. We lack that on the whole circuit. That’s because we’re wrong with our concept. The three top cars, so Red Bull, Ferrari and Aston Martin, have more or less the same concept. And we work differently.’

That came as a big blow to Mercedes, because during the various simulations everything seemed to be very good. “The numbers looked really promising, but we don’t see that on the track. So we can’t waste our time on this anymore. So we can’t build a completely different chassis, that really can’t be done away with. But we can straighten things out with a series of updates. The goal now is to find speed in large steps. And we know how to do that.’

Budget ceiling hinders development

In any case, the budget ceiling does not help the team to recover quickly. The expenses for updates are limited. ‘The budget ceiling has both positive and negative sides. If you are lagging behind, as you are now, you cannot of course build a second chassis. But I think our fundamental problem is not building a second chassis or throwing new parts on the car. It’s more about the fact that we went in the wrong direction.’

Mercedes may therefore have to take a step back before it can move forward again. “If we change it now, it will be limited by the budget cap, but not in a way you would expect, like we can’t develop. We can still develop. But it does mean that we have to spend time on a new concept, on new ideas and we have to stop the old. So in the short term it may mean taking a step back before you take two steps forward.”

Wolff therefore does not intend to complain about the budget cap, because these are the rules the team has to contend with, and he sees that it is possible to build a very fast car with a competitor. “These are the rules, they were put in place precisely to bring the field closer together, which will eventually happen. I mean, Red Bull shows us that if you do well, you can do better than others. But for us these are the rules and we have to do even better.’

Finding downforce is most important for Mercedes

The team boss strongly doubts whether overturning the entire chassis would be the solution. “When you talk about the chassis, the question is are you talking about the monocoque and basically the fairing or are we talking about everything else around it. I think the monocoque is one thing, and of course there are consequences for weight, center of gravity, where is the driver, more forward, more back?’, he wonders aloud.

“But I think the biggest gain we have to find is how we can get more downforce all over the track,” said Wolff, pointing out where the biggest problem is. “And those are the areas we’re chasing now. If we come to the conclusion in the coming months that that was the right path, then it will go in that direction. And if we see that it is not enough to really compete at the front, then maybe more radical decisions have to be made.’

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