Mercedes lusts for revenge. To achieve this, the engineers have refined the extreme concept from front to back. The new Mercedes W14 also has a mini sidepod. And Lewis Hamilton and George Russell's new car is almost all black again. We'll tell you what it's all about. And who was allowed to do the first laps at Silverstone.
The previous season did not meet the Mercedes requirements. The team that won all but one world title between 2014 and 2021 fell behind Red Bull and Ferrari. Mercedes only celebrated one pole position (GP Hungary) and a victory in the sprint and main race (GP Brazil). In the Team World Championship, the racing team, spoiled by success, ended up in third place.
It took almost three-quarters of a season for Mercedes to understand its car and clear the biggest construction sites. The W13 was a car that then really came into its own on courses that demanded maximum downforce. Even at Red Bull, they admitted that the Mercedes generated the most downforce in the field. However, there was a lack of efficiency. The Mercedes was far too slow on high-speed circuits like Spa or Monza.
Mini sidepod remains
The engineers continue to have confidence in their concept due to the rising shape curve in the last quarter of the season. With the new W14 for the 2023 Formula 1 season, Mercedes is following suit. You build on what you've learned instead of embarking on a new aerodynamic adventure. But that doesn't mean that the architecture was left unchanged. There are externally visible differences to last year's model. However, a lot is said to have happened under the disguise. "The core of the DNA is the same, but we made significant interventions in the bodywork and worked on many invisible details," explains Mercedes Technical Director Mike Elliott.
The sidepods continue to nestle so tightly against the chassis that there is a lot of free space on the underbody at the sides. The inlet is still a vertical slot. This time, however, the outermost edge practically goes straight down. The cooling concept is still extremely designed and has been adapted for the 2023 Mercedes. The Silver Arrow doesn't divert a lot of air for the sidepods.
Speaking of silver arrow. After a year in silver, Mercedes is changing color again. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell's new racing car is almost entirely black in 2023. Only the start numbers and the colors of sponsor Petronas provide a few color accents.
Black to save weight
The new Mercedes W14 is only really painted on the top of the nose and on the hood in the upper area. Otherwise, the carbon fibers mostly shine through. Mercedes dispenses with paint. That saves weight. Even at the end of the season, last year's model was still well above the minimum weight.Mercedes has slimmed down massively with a new chassis.
Let's get back to the technology. The engineers also drew inspiration from the competition. The nose is longer, but its triangular shape at the tip is reminiscent of that of last year's Ferrari. The philosophy of the front wing can be derived from last year's Alpine. Mercedes dispenses with curved wing elements. Only at the transition to the end plates do the flaps bend downwards in order to consciously press the air around the front wheels.
The side box of the new W14 is mini-small, but now has a small ramp on top based on the Red Bull model. Not an extremely bulged one, but a clearly visible one. The air is routed over the side pod for significantly longer than on the predecessor. In principle, the side box of the Mercedes W14 looks built in such a way that the air is pushed outwards on the one hand. This is called outwash. On the other hand, the flow on the upper side is apparently directed towards the outer edge of the underbody in front of the rear wheels and towards the beam wing.
Mercedes against bouncing
Mercedes kept the side box stem. The engineers lined the upper crash structure to form a wing. On the top, the enlarged mirror and several small flow straighteners spread out. The engineers also placed small air deflectors underneath the chassis, about 20 centimeters in front of the inlet to the side boxes. Toto Wolff already revealed during the performance that the shape of the fairing could change after a few races. We are curious if the "Zero-Pods" survive the season.
The engine cover has a pronounced central plateau. That's a trend that many 2023 cars are following. The rear wing continues to be supported by a central stilt. The wing itself is redrawn. When it comes to the suspension, Mercedes continues to use pushrods at the front and pullrods at the rear. However, the engineers tackled the geometry of the front wheel suspension and the rear wheel suspension.
One topic that slowed Mercedes down last season was bouncing. The engineers had to get rid of the hopping on the straights and in fast corners from their new car. Mercedes has certainly put a lot of effort into the construction of the underbody. The engineers hope that by 2022 you will have learned enough to avoid falling into the trap again. Aerodynamic modifications are needed to cure bouncing. However, the phenomenon is not detached from the mechanical components. The whole concept has to be right.
The goal is the world title
The drivers demand a predictable car. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell want a Mercedes that is balanced for all types of corners - from the slow to the fast. The specifications also included a better top speed. The new Mercedes W14 has to be faster on the straights.The team from Brackley may have copied a trick from Red Bull to lower the rear at high speeds.
"We aspire to fight for the world championship. However, we know that our opponents were very strong last season and that we have to catch up," says Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. Perhaps the black Silver Arrow is not the fastest car at the start of the season. However, Mercedes believes in the potential that lies dormant in this concept. One question is who best compensated for the loss of downforce caused by the new underbody rules.
We will only find out during the tests in Bahrain and in the first races of the season. Team boss Wolff assures the Mercedes fans: "We leave no stone unturned in the hunt for every millisecond. We throw in everything we have."
Is the car hopping?
The new Mercedes W14 had its first exit right after the presentation. The team had reserved the Silverstone race track for this. George Russell was allowed to run the no longer silver arrow first. Cool but initially dry conditions gave the engineers their first opportunity to collect data on the aerodynamics.
Later, the British weather showed its wet side, which forced the use of rain tires. Russell didn't want to reveal too much about the maiden voyage on his birthday afterwards: "Everything went smoothly. It was important that we didn't experience any drama. But with the special tires and in these conditions, the learning effect is always limited."
Of course, auto motor und sport also asked Russell whether the old bouncing problems reappeared on the first run. Surprisingly, the pilot didn't want to go into detail about that. With the words: "We'll see about that in the next week," he dodged the question briefly and succinctly. Great confidence sounds different.
It was also a bit surprising that Mercedes only published two driving pictures of the route (see gallery). And both show the new car from the front. Otherwise there were only a handful of photos from the presentation and a few computer renderings that were not very detailed. It almost seems as if Mercedes doesn't want to reveal all the cards yet.