Toto Wolff opens up on ‘illegal’ Mercedes

Toto Wolff has confirmed that Mercedes has been in ‘constant dialogue’ with the FIA concerning the front wing of their 2024 challenger, the W15.

The Silver Arrows attracted plenty of attention within the paddock after revealing an innovative new design at pre-season testing in Bahrain.

Confirming the legality of the W15’s all-new front wing design – which has faced scrutiny due to its impact on controlling airflow around the car – Wolff said: “What’s been put on a car is always following an exchange with the FIA, all through the process.

“It’s not such a thing where you have a clever idea and then you bolt it on to test and you think, ‘That could be or couldn’t be challenged’.

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That’s a long process of dialogue that happens over the winter.

I feel we’re in an OK place.”

Mercedes were not the sole team to arrive in Bahrain with some radical development ideas on display.

Red Bull chose to emulate the Silver Arrows’ 2022 and 2023 challengers, drawing inspiration from the ‘zeropod’ design concept as they aim to defend their back-to-back Constructors’ Championship titles.

Addressing the similarities between the new Red Bull and Mercedes’ previous design, Wolff explained: “The truth is you don’t know; every team follows their own development direction and is trying to generate lap time in the virtual world, in simulators and in the wind tunnel.

“And they’re going to put that on the car no matter what other teams do.

We have moved away from our zero-pod concept and some of the features because we felt it didn’t aid the car’s performance, and that’s why we’ve transitioned to something that at first glance appears more conventional from the bodywork but we believe is a better platform.”

If the first day of pre-season testing is anything to go by, Red Bull’s design decisions over the winter have paid dividends.

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Reigning world champion Max Verstappen dominated the morning session, consistently at the top of the timing screens, before extending his lead in the afternoon session.

One of only two drivers to complete both the morning and afternoon sessions, Verstappen set a time over 1.1 seconds faster than Lando Norris, who finished day one in second place.

The lap left race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase chuckling in the Red Bull garage and serves as a foreboding warning to the rest of the field.
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