F1: Without Aldo Costa, Wolff was hell-bent on proving they did not need him

by Mark Cipolloni

After the Bahrain GP weekend, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff called the Mercedes W14 F1 car useless.

As we have written on these pages many times, when Aldo Costa left Mercedes to live back in Italy with his family, it was all downhill for the Mercedes F1 design team.

This is why Mercedes ended up with yet another dud after the bouncing baby of a car they rolled out last year.

Out to prove they can design a great car without Aldo Costa, Mercedes decided to polish the W13 turd over the winter and call it the W14.

It is likely that Wolff was caught out by being so loyal to his team of designers left after Costa departed not to challenge their decision not to copy Red Bull’s design, which was obviously the quickest car and exactly what Aston Martin have done.

Aldo Costa in 2016 when he was designing the great Mercedes F1 cars that made Lewis Hamilton look a god.

One team boss called it “Mercedes engineering pride”, the ideal they were so hell-bent on trying to polish a turd that they became oblivious to the messy consequences.  You can guess who said that.

“I think it was brutal,” David Coulthard, who is a Red Bull ambassador, told Channel 4 after the season opener.

“This car has only been alive for six days, a few days of testing, three days here. I don’t know where Wolff’s coming from with that {abandoning the W14 car design already].

“But yeah, they’ve got a completely different strategy with the sidepods. They clearly have to try and follow the pack now. But that is like a big kick in the whatnots for the design team.”

Wolff claimed they had actually hit all the performance targets they had set themselves in the winter for the W14, only problem is – the other top teams set higher performance targets.

We expect to see the Mercedes look like a Red Bull copy when the European season begins in May.

The problem for Wolff, Mercedes, Hamilton and Russell is that the cost to do the redesign will impact their 2023 cost cap budget, so they will be starting from scratch with a car concept they have little experience with.

Meanwhile, the other top teams will be making their cars even faster so by the time the W14 (let’s call it the W14.5) rolls out, Mercedes will have chewed through a good chunk of their 2023 budget and a lot less will be left for development throughout the year unless they cheat and hide costs.

And what of the Mercedes Engineering Pride that they have to copy a caffeine drink company’s car?

Oh my!