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Formula 1: Mercedes upgrade will not be a ‘silver bullet’ – Wolff

The major car upgrade Mercedes bring in at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix will not be a “silver bullet”, team principal Toto Wolff says.

It is the result of Mercedes’ decision to change design philosophy after starting a second season off the pace.

Mercedes had intended to use it at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, but that was cancelled last weekend as a result of flooding in northern Italy.

Monaco will “provide an opportunity to learn about the upgrades,” Wolff said.

While Monaco is not normally a track where a team would choose to introduce a major design revision, Mercedes decided to press ahead because the cars had already been modified for Imola.

The upgrades have not been seen publicly yet but Wolff has said they include a revised front suspension, sidepods and floor.

It will mean the abandonment of the so-called “zero-sidepod” design Mercedes pioneered when Formula 1’s new rules were introduced in 2022 but which has proved a failure in comparison with Red Bull’s very different way of treating the airflow around the car.

Red Bull use sidepods with a pronounced undercut to channel air as smoothly and quickly as possible to the rear, while ‘sealing’ the underfloor to ensure its downforce-producing ground-effect venturi tunnels work effectively.

Wolff admitted that the unique nature of Monaco – the track is the slowest on the calendar and is notoriously tight, twisty and bumpy – meant it would be difficult to be certain about the performance of the new design.

“We need to be careful not to draw too many conclusions from this one event,” Wolff said. “We are introducing the first step in a new development direction.

“It won’t be a silver bullet; from my experience, they do not exist in our sport. We hope that it gives the drivers a more stable and predictable platform. Then we can build on that in the weeks and months ahead.

“F1 is tough competition and a meritocracy. We are not where we want to be but there’s no sense of entitlement. It’s just about hard work to get us to the front.”

Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell lie fourth and sixth in the world championship after five races, all of which have been won by Red Bull.

In the constructors’ championship, they trail Red Bull and Aston Martin, who buy their engines and much of the rear end of their car from Mercedes.

Max Verstappen is leading the championship from Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso third.

In qualifying, the Mercedes has been on average the fourth-quickest car over one lap this season, behind Red Bull, Ferrari and Aston Martin.

The team’s best result is a second place for Hamilton in Australia, where Russell achieved the team’s highest grid position, also second.

Ferrari and Aston Martin are tipped to challenge Red Bull more strongly in Monaco than at any race so far this season because it should suit the characteristics of their cars and their weakness on the straights compared to the world champions should be less exposed.

In addition, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Alonso have traditionally excelled around the streets of Monaco. –