Toto Wolff admits that Mercedes will not know if they have addressed the previous issues on their car for 2023 until pre-season testing gets underway.
The team endured a difficult season in 2022, with the W13 being affected by problems such as porpoising from an early stage in the year.
While there were signs of progress as the campaign went on, the Silver Arrows were ultimately unable to match the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari and ended the championship in third place.
Wolff is confident that Mercedes have gained an understanding of what went wrong, but remains cautious of making predictions until testing begins.
Wolff on importance of testing
“I think we have understood how we fell back and where the shortcomings are, where we [previously] had gaps in understanding,” Wolff told media, including RacingNews365.com.
“We’re working hard on putting a car on the ground that has addressed all of that. But we will only see when we’ve started testing whether we have unlocked the potential that we believe has always been in the car.
“We have no doubt, when you’re starting behind [the other two teams] by half a second, that it’s going to be difficult to catch up to such great organisations, like Red Bull or Ferrari.”
Mercedes setting ‘realistic’ expectations
While Mercedes are prepared for the challenge of catching their rivals, Wolff feels that they also need to remain realistic in their expectations.
“We are super determined in [trying to catch Red Bull and Ferrari],” the team boss explained.
“But we need to set our expectations at a realistic level. If we perform in the way we hope [to], then we’d like to be part [of] the racing at the very front.
“I think that would be a starting point, but we don’t take that for granted. It could well be that the gaps are like they were at the end of last season.
“But I think there is so much potential still within our car, within the concept, the way we drive the car, etc., that maybe our development slope can be steeper in the months to come.”
Pre-season testing is set to take place in Bahrain from 23-25 February, ahead of the first race of the 2023 F1 season at the same venue on 5 March.