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Wolff: Mercedes potentially '12 months' behind Red Bull

Mercedes are abandoning their W14 car concept, but boss Toto Wolff feels they are still well behind Red Bull.

Toto Wolff has estimated that Mercedes are "six to 12 months" behind Red Bull as they look to change their Formula 1 car concept. Mercedes doubled-down on their zero sidepod approach with the W14, but after qualifying for the first race in Bahrain, Wolff admitted they had got it wrong and a change in concept was needed. An upgrade package is due for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola in May but, even if the team did adopt a Red Bull-inspired design, Wolff feels that the eight-time champions could still be a year behind their rivals from Milton Keynes.

Wolff on Mercedes deficit

"I think the lag is probably between six and 12 months, because that's the time it really took for us to figure out what was actually happening with the [2022] car," Wolff told media, including RacingNews365.com , in Jeddah. "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."

Red Bull dominance not locked in

When teams have periods of dominance such as Mercedes between 2014-2021, there are often calls for regulation changes to slow a team down. However, under the F1 rules, the earliest this could be done is 2025, and the regulations are changing for 2026 anyway, with Red Bull's advantage potentially baked in until then. Despite the impact of the cost cap, Wolff is still optimistic that Red Bull can be caught and overhauled. "Well, that is a risk," Wolff began when asked by RacingNews365.com if he feared Red Bull being untouchable before the 2026 rules reset. "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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