Preparations are underway in the Paddock for the start of the season in Bahrain. It will be a hectic time for teams, with several spare parts and even the first update packages starting to arrive from the factories. Alpine’s A523 and the Mercedes W14 are expected to undergo the biggest change.
Alpine has revealed it can take advantage of its new developments, while Mercedes revealed in testing that a lower downforce wing would arrive for the race weekend compared to the one used in the tests, to better adapt to the demands of the Bahrain circuit.
Mercedes: New medium-duty rear wing mounted on W14
The Brackley engineers don’t want to waste time and have already prepared their cars for tomorrow’s action on the track.
The first circuit of the F1 World Championship requires two main characteristics: good aerodynamic efficiency and stability of the rear axle.
The new wing (as seen below), will make its debut tomorrow and is designed to maximize the first of these characteristics – ie improve the aerodynamic efficiency of the W14.
This new specification that will certainly bring the direct advantage of a reduction in drag compared to the high-load conformation with which the W14 carried out the tests .
In fact, with that rear wing conformation, it significantly accentuated the drag of the black car, a necessary choice to have a stable and continuous study platform over the three days of work and, above all, which guaranteed an important comparison with last season’s car .
The direct comparison shows the change between the two specifications, with the lowest downforce wing currently fitted to Lewis Hamilton’s W14.
The technicians led by Mike Elliott will analyze the new rear wing in free practice, which will bring a few km/h more speed on the straight but will also have to be compatible with the load and stability requirements of the rear that a circuit like that of Sakhir requires .
Wolff: “We expected to be chasing our main rivals, and this seems to be the situation.”
After a disastrous year, Mercedes wants to return to the top to compete for the world title, even if it is aware that the road is long.
Not even Toto Wolff, Team Principal, has made any secret of this, praising the Red Bull and Ferrari’s development whilst keeping faith in the W14 concept and its aerodynamic philosophy.
In the first part of the season, however, the W14 will make some changes – with the Brackley-squad already working on important updates, which should allow the W14 to also correct some objectives not achieved in the design of the new car.
In fact, the work in Brackley continues unabated, to improve a W14 which in the ‘basic’ version is better than last season’s car, but still does not satisfy the technicians.
There was an aura of pessimism around the car of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell , and the tests so far have done nothing but confirm it.
“We didn’t have very clean tests due to some reliability and setup issues, especially on the second day. However, the goal was to get to know the car, and on the last day, we learned something that will also help us in the short term and, therefore, also in this first race of the season,” commented Toto Wolff.
The CEO of the German squad team then clarified what his team’s expectations were, but also what he believes is realistic this year:
” We expected to still have to chase our main rivals, and this seems to be the situation. However, we are starting from a stronger base than last season, and there is a championship of 23 races to go in which we will give everything up to the last lap in Abu Dhabi.”
The challenge has therefore been set, and – if it proves to be such – a slow start will not discourage Mercedes from fighting and developing the W14 to chase its direct rivals.
Ultimately, the real potential of the Mercedes package will only be revealed with the first official sessions.
Authors: Paolo D’Alessandro
Co Author: Piergiuseppe Donadoni
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang