Toto Wolff says Mercedes is lagging Red Bull by “six to twelve months”, which means the team will need to double the development speed of its revamped W14 in the coming months.

After F1’s opening race in Bahrain, Wolff threw in the towel, and recognized that Mercedes’ zero sidepod-based design was fundamentally flawed and would not allow the former championship winning outfit to fight for the title this season.

A subsequent crisis meeting back at the team’s headquarters in Brackley led to the elaboration of a comprehensive plan of attack to right the ship in the coming months through a change of concept.

But catching up with Red Bull will require making up a shortfall of six to twelve months.

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“I think the lag is probably between six and twelve months, because that’s the time it really took for us to figure out what was actually happening with the [2022] car,” Wolff explained.

“That means we just need to double the development speed, a stronger development slope which the logic and rationale speaks for it, that we could have [it].

“[Red Bull’s] gains are going to be incrementally smaller if their concept is mature.

“Aero-wise, wind tunnel time can help a bit but not hugely, and we’ve just got to get our act together.

“If we fundamentally understand where we need to put the car, then the steps are going to be large, but we need to be perfect.”

Asked if Red Bull could sustain its competitive advantage until Formula 1’s next regulation change in 2026, Wolff said: “Well, that is a risk.”

“But this a cost cap World Championship, this is a technical World Championship and a sporting World Championship.

“And we will look at all the angles that there is in order to optimise our relative performance to Red Bull to give them a good run for their money.”

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