Mercedes would not be able to stop working on the current car to gain an advantage for 2026

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says his team could never accept scrapping work on the current-generation car to gain an edge under the 2026 rules.

The German manufacturer is facing the reality that they still haven’t mastered their understanding of the latest ground effect regulations, with their W15 not producing the challenge to Red Bull that they had hoped for.

Mercedes admitted that their car for 2024 shows characteristics that do not make sense: an increased level of downforce that does not translate into additional performance on the track.

It is suspected that their problems are more related to mechanics than pure aerodynamics.

Wolff said he has no doubt that Max Verstappen and Red Bull already look well on their way to the title and that the team’s main goal at the moment is to finish in the best position of the rest.

But as it searches for answers to what they’re missing from the W15 car, a scenario is emerging where Mercedes may decide it’s not worth throwing endless resources at the current rules – as it would be better off committing to its 2026 car early to ensure quickly getting out of the problem.

Such an invitation is yet to come, and the FIA ​​will not allow teams to start working on the aerodynamics of the new cars until early 2025.

But when asked if there could be a time this year when Mercedes will have to decide to abandon the current rules cycle, Wolff was firm about his team’s stance.

“We are Mercedes,” said the Austrian. “We cannot completely abandon the current regulations and continue to operate at the level we are currently at.”

“That is not the brand’s ambition, neither ours nor our partners’. So no. I think you have to keep pushing, keep forming your understanding.”

“But eventually, when the FIA ​​comes up with some sort of regulation, we, like all the other teams, will start looking at it, and probably sooner.”

The Austrian claims that Mercedes are blocked from chasing Red Bull with Ferrari and McLaren – which is ultimately not what their ambition was.

“If you end up expecting a race for wins and championships, then you can say we’re a bit of a no-man’s land because Max and Red Bull are way ahead,” he explained.

“We are in this group, but it is not satisfactory for any team fighting for 2nd, 3rd or 4th [place]. I’ve always said that 1st [place] is what matters, not 2nd/3rd/4th.

“But this is the reality we’re facing right now and we’re trying to make the best of this new reality.”

“It [our goal] is to beat our direct competitors, while recognizing that someone is just doing a better job, and setting a benchmark that we’ll eventually have to set again as to whether we can win races this year, and I wouldn’t want to give up on those ambitions. And certainly not next year.”

“There is a big reset for 2026, which certainly provides the most realistic opportunity for any other team to beat Red Bull. But there’s season one and three quarters before that, and I don’t want to go through much more suffering in the next 18 months. I would just hope for peaks and an upward trajectory.”