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Why Wolff expects 'very difficult' challenge for Mercedes in 2023

While he remains hopeful that Mercedes can return to form in 2023, team boss Toto Wolff acknowledges that they have a challenging task ahead of them.

Toto Wolff admits that Mercedes face a "very difficult" task in 2023 in terms of closing the development gap to Red Bull and Ferrari. The 2022 season proved to be a difficult one for the Silver Arrows, with the W13 being affected by issues including porpoising from an early stage in the campaign. While there were signs of progress – along with a victory for George Russell at the penultimate race of the year in Brazil – the team finished third in the Constructors' Championship after being unable to match the pace of their rivals at the front of the pack. Wolff is feeling positive about the squad's chances of moving forwards in the next season, but acknowledges that it could be challenging.

Wolff on 'difficult' development slope

"I'm always a half-empty glass guy, and I see the risks," Wolff told the Beyond The Grid podcast. "As a matter of fact, if you're trying to be logical, Red Bull [were] very dominant throughout the season. They wouldn't have won 15 races or more [otherwise], and also towards the end. "It's going to be very difficult to have a development slope that is steeper than theirs, and also Ferrari." Wolff hopes that the culture of the Brackley-based outfit will contribute towards them making progress in 2023. "I believe in the organisation and, fundamentally, it's not about a lack of downforce, but it's about a problem in making the downforce work on the car," he explained. "With our learnings and the values in the team, the empowerment, the no blame culture, I think we will be back in a more potent form next year. Hopefully, [we'll be] winning races on merit and fighting for the championship. "But is it a given? Certainly not."

Reaction to Marko comments

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has previously voiced his opinion that Mercedes will pose more of a challenge in 2023 , something that Wolff has given his reaction to. "Helmut knows a lot about racing," the Silver Arrows boss said. "If he says that, obviously, you have to accept that. But he talked us up at the beginning of the season, [saying] that we would sort out things, and we weren't able to sort them out. "The comments, you will always have them, positive or negative. And we just fundamentally need to do the best possible job and return to competitiveness."

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