Mercedes principal Toto Wolff has been putting a positive spin on what's been a very disappointing season for the team, explaining that sometimes it's necessary to fail in order to move forward.
Mercedes won eight back-to-back constructors championships up to 2021, dominating the modern hybrid era, but problems with this year's car saw them slump to third in the team standings behind Red Bull and Ferrari.
It was also the first season since his debut in 2007 that Lewis Hamilton failed to finish a race, although his team mate George Russell managed to claim victory in the penultimate race of the season in Brazil.
“We talked about it these last eight years, how we would react if that were to happen – how would we cope with losing?" Wolff told Tom Clarkson in the latest Beyond the Grid podcast.
"Inevitably we knew that one day it’s going to happen, and here we are," he sighed.
“In terms of performance, you can say after eight consecutive constructors’ titles, coming out of the blocks being half a second off – and I’m being rather on the optimistic side – was certainly something you needed to get used to."
Everyone at Brackley and Brixworth has been working non-stop through the season to overcome the problems with the W13, and Russell's in in Sao Paulo was strong evidence that they're on the right track.
“I’m particularly proud of the team, how we have recovered through the season, because it wasn’t a one-race blip," Wolff insisted. "It wasn’t that there was a clear trajectory that was going up only
"We had good races and then we fell back. At the end, I think we’re much closer to our rivals, the front-running cars, than we were at the beginning.”
Wolff added that you learn more from the problems and the failures than you do from all the successes: "you have to fail and get it wrong to prosper", he summarised.
“At the end it comes back to the sentence, ‘The days we lose are the days our competitors will regret’ because we learn the most. Hopefully the future will be proof of that.”
Wolff said that he was hoping that 2023 would see Mercedes back on the same level as their chief rivals, but admitted that nothing could be taken for granted.
“I’m always a half empty glass guy, and I see the risks. As a matter of fact, if you’re trying to be logical, Red Bull was very dominant throughout the season.
"It’s going to be very difficult to have a development slope that is steeper than theirs, and also Ferrari. But I believe in the organisation.
Early in the season the chief problem faced by Mercedes was 'porpoising', a side effect of the new aerodynamic rules introduced in 2022 that caused the W13 to bounce down long straights.
Once that was tackled, Mercedes then found the car was suffering from high drag, making them too slow to compete with the Red Bull cars. Wolff said that the engineering team was hard at work addressing the problem for 2023.
“Fundamentally it’s not about a lack of downforce, but a problem in making that downforce work on the car," he explained.
"ith our learnings, the values in the team, the empowerment and the no blame culture, I think we will be back in a more potent form next year.
"Hopefully [we will be] winning races on merit and fighting for the championship. But is it a given? Certainly not.”