Wolff wants 'many more Mercedes stars' on the board

Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director at a team photograph. 23.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Preparation Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images
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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has acknowledged that it's down to the team to give Lewis Hamilton the car that he and the squad need to get them back into race and title-winning contention in 2024.

The Silver Arrows dominated the period between 2013 and 2021 with back-to-back constructors championships, with a total of six world championship titles for Lewis Hamilton.

But Hamilton hasn't won a race since missing out on a further title in the epic 2021 Abu Dhabi GP, which he lost to Red Bull's Max Verstappen who has gone on to unprecedented levels of success in 2022 and 2023.

Mercedes meanwhile were caught out by new aerodynamic regulations that came into effect at the start of last year, including the return 'ground effect' which resulted in several teams including Mercedes suffering from 'porpoising'.

Although that's been largely addressed this year, Mercedes have continued to struggle to find consistent pace and performance with the W14 even after dropping their 'zero sidepod' design approach.

Things seemed to improving over the season with Hamilton taking six podiums from Australia to Mexico, but there was a new slump for the squad toward the end of the year: Hamilton crashed out in Qatar and was disqualified in Austin.

The final three races saw him finish eighth, seventh and ninth. In the season finale it was left to team mate George Russell to secure the points needed to keep Mercedes ahead of Ferrari in the constructors championship.

“From Lewis’ perspective he had a bad weekend,” Wolff reflected of the Abu Dhabi GP. "“That doesn’t do anything on him being the greatest driver in the world.

"If we can give him a car, he'll be fighting for a world championship. I have no doubt. Then the real Lewis comes alive. We just need to give that to him.”

The team is planning to use the winter off-season to radically overhaul their car design for 2024 in their quest to be back at the forefront of F1.

“Somebody told me a funny sentence about a long-term perspective," Wolff said "We have a board in our factory that shows all the constructors’ world championships since 1958.

"The table goes until 2050 and we have the logos and badges of the different years,” Wolff continued. “There are 27 open with empty badges. I would like to look back in 20 years and say there are many more Mercedes stars.

“When you are retrospective - and I hate retrospective views - but when you look back 20 years and consider that decade it was second, first, first, first, first, first, first, first, first, third, second.

"From that perspective you kind of say that was okay," he said. But Mercedes has never faced a more dominant foe than Max Verstappen and Red Bull, who swept to a recored 19 wins in the course of the 22-event 2023 season.

“From a micro view there is one guy who won 19 races, so that is of course not good enough," Wolff conceded.

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