Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff suggests the German marque is not yet ready to give up development on its 2023 Formula 1 car.

Despite Lewis Hamilton achieving the team’s first pole position of the year on Saturday in Hungary, the British driver was unable to finish on the podium and trailed home 39.1s behind race winner Max Verstappen.

After Aston Martin made remarkable strides over the winter to be a regular podium scorer early in the season, McLaren has now emerged as a front-running force since introducing a significant upgrade package.

The Woking-based squad have finished ahead of the lead Mercedes car at each of the past three grands prix, with Lando Norris taking successive second places.

Although Mercedes retain a comfortable hold on second place in the Constructors’ Championship and the gap to Red Bull remains larger than ever, Wolff insists the Brackley side won’t give up on its W14 car.

“I wouldn’t want to give up any season,” Wolff declared.

“You can see how McLaren has leapfrogged everybody else with an update that they didn’t expect to be that powerful. Whatever it was, they gained a second probably and leapfrogged Aston Martin, Ferrari and moved in as really strong contenders at the beginning of the season are now nowhere.

“We just need to continue working, chipping away at our understanding and unlocking potential in the car as did Aston Martin over the winter or McLaren during the season. We won’t give up.”

Verstappen’s Hungary triumph marked Red Bull’s 12th consecutive victory to set a new record for the most wins achieved successively by a team in F1 history.

Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates in qualifying parc ferme with the team. 22.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 12, Hungarian Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary, Qualifying Day.

The Dutchman’s 33.7s margin of victory was the greatest the 2023 season has seen to this point, prompting Wolff to acknowledge after the race “It’s like a bunch of Formula 2 cars against a Formula 1”.

Therefore, asked if there was enough potential in Mercedes’ current philosophy to catch Red Bull in 2024, Wolff responded: “I think we need a lot of changes in 2024.

“The direction our team is developing is really quite interesting and we see opportunities and we are not shying away of leaving no stone unturned, looking at every single concept.”

Without Mercedes recording a 1-2 finish at the penultimate round in Brazil last season Red Bull would have won all of the previous 22 races to take place.

But despite Verstappen and Red Bull’s crushing advantage at the Hungaroring on Sunday, Wolff isn’t concerned about the entertainment aspect of the sport.

“Why I love this sport is that it is meritocratic,” the Austrian chief explained. “Entertainment follows sport and not the other way round. We can’t create a balance of performance or anything that would level out the field, it is what it is.

“We had these years with Mercedes where we finished one and two every single race and that was certainly not great for entertainment purposes, and that’s why we just need to work better and get ourselves back into contention,” he continued. “Because many fans would have left frustrated after yesterday thinking that we were really close together, keen to watch what happens today, and then they see one car just disappear into the sunset.”

Although its Sunday showing marked a disappointment compared to the high of Saturday, Mercedes still extended its advantage over Aston Martin for second place in the Constructors’ standings.

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