Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says his team needs to change its car concept if it wants to get back to the front of Formula 1.
After a disappointing qualifying for the season-opener in Bahrain, with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton qualifying sixth and seventh, Wolff said the reality of his team’s lack of performance had hit home.
With the squad having pushed on with the same car concept as last year, while many rivals had gone down the Red Bull downwash solution, Wolff said it was time to admit his outfit had got it wrong.
Having launched its new W14 with the belief it could eventually be made into a winner, Wolff said his tune had now changed and it was time to pursue other options.
Asked by Motorsport.com if he agreed with Hamilton’s assessment earlier in the weekend that Mercedes would not hit its targets with the current concept, Wolff said: “I don't think this package is going to be competitive eventually.
“We gave it our best shot all over the winter, and now we just need to all regroup and sit down with the engineers, who are totally not dogmatic about anything.
“There are no holy cows and we need to decide what is the development direction that we want to pursue, in order to be competitive to win races.
“It's not only like last year, where you are scoring many podiums and eventually you get there.
“I'm sure we can win races this season. But it's really the mid and long term that we need to look at, and which decisions we need to take.”
Wolff suggested a deep analysis of Mercedes’ long-term plan would need to be made after this weekend’s Bahrain GP.
But he was clear that even if the team elected to pursue an all-new concept, it would not give up on trying to push forward as much as it could with the W14.
“We are racers, and we are racing, and we will never give up fighting every single session to be on top,” he said.
“If you look at the pecking order, today, you say, well, it's not realistic. But I'm looking at what can we find next week? What can we add to the car? What is the change of direction that we can implement? And how quickly is that, so that maybe we can turn the ship around this year?
"It's just first qualifying of '23. That's why I don't want to discount anything for this year, while being totally realistic that it [the car] needs a lot to change a lot.”