The Brackley -based outfit have had a difficult 2022 season with their W13, suffering greatly from a lack of speed and failing to deliver enough performance to keep up with Red Bull Racing and Ferrari.
Mercedes’ chances of a quick recovery were further hampered by the cost cap, which didn’t allow it to make big changes to its current car during the year to make it faster.
But with budgets tightening for next year, and with greater awareness of the W13’s shortcomings, Mercedes is optimistic about the level of progress on its future W14 .
Asked by Motorsport.com what Mercedes has already found out about the 2023 car, team boss Toto Wolff said: “Turning the boat around in this industry is a bit like an oil tanker.”
“First you have to understand what the root cause of your lack of performance is. And then you have to peel back the different skins: What is the first layer? What is the second layer? Are we really on top of all the issues?” .
“And the answer is no, we’re not. But I think we’ve discovered a lot of the performance that we’re missing.”
“It’s not something we can change this year. These are decisions we’ve made for next year.”
“But I am not 100% sure, nor confident, to say that next year we will be fighting for the world championship. The objective and the expectations are those, but there is still work to be done.”
Mercedes narrowly missed taking its second pole position of the season in Singapore as Lewis Hamilton missed out on the lead at Marina Bay on Saturday by 0.054 seconds (54 thousandths).
However, despite aiming for pole, Wolff downplayed that performance as a sign of the team’s progress and suggested the result was simply down to Hamilton’s driving brilliance.
“This was his circuit, and I think it was not that easy to drive the car,” said Wolff. “It’s been tough all year. So I think: we’ve been fighting for pole position, that’s good, because we’re used to it in recent years. But actually I think he’s been better than the car.
“It was on a knife edge. And I think if I had done the perfect lap we would have been on pole, but I think we can be very pleased with the performance.”
“It’s one of the tracks that, from what our simulations said, should suit our car the most, apart from the bumps. And that’s exactly what the driver said: that the handling is really bad, the car was too stiff. .
“But the aerodynamics seem to work, so we look much better than at other circuits.”