Wolff insists Mercedes have ‘Mount Everest to climb’ for 2024 as they set sights on Red Bull
Toto Wolff has underlined the task ahead of Mercedes as they head into the winter and attempt to make the gains required to catch reigning world champions Red Bull, describing their chances as “against the odds”.
Mercedes won eight consecutive constructors’ titles from 2014 to 2021, along with seven world titles across the same period, but have struggled in F1’s latest ground effect era so far.
Stepping into their dominant footsteps have been Red Bull, who romped to both World Championships in 2022 and did the double in 2023, remarkably winning 21 of the 22 races staged – while Mercedes failed to taste victory for the first time since 2011.
Mercedes had to settle for the runner-up spot in the constructors’ standings via a close fight with Ferrari, and team boss Wolff admitted to mixed emotions after last weekend’s season finale in Abu Dhabi.
“You know, when you win P2, it reminds you that you lost P1,” said Wolff. “I think we need to take it on the chin, be humble about it, and consider today as a good day. Nevertheless, there is a Mount Everest to climb in order to catch up with Red Bull.
“I have no doubt that McLaren is going to be right in the mix next year, maybe Aston Martin, maybe others, and we must leave no stone unturned [at Mercedes’ factories] in Brixworth and in Brackley.
“As tough as it is to be reminded that it’s just P2, it’s also a great, great opportunity to come back and drive for the stars.”
Wolff also explained how Mercedes have gone “back to the drawing board” for the 2024 campaign as they look to overhaul a Max Verstappen/Red Bull combination that has broken countless records and rewritten the F1 history books.
“Red Bull started into these regulations in 2022 with a massive advantage and was able to maintain it, and you have to have a lot of respect for their achievement on the engineering side and the driver,” the Austrian commented.
“Beating them under the current regulations is against the odds, it’s clear, but at the same time, we’ve seen with McLaren, where an update unlocked a second of lap time, or AlphaTauri coming strong at the end, and Aston Martin over the winter – there is a key to unlock dramatically more performance.
“I think us... assessing it in an honest way that this car is never going to be good enough to fight for championships – we’ve taken the decision that we’re going to go back to the drawing board and come up with something new next year. But Mount Everest is in front of us.”