Mercedes has unveiled their challenger for the upcoming 2023 season, the W14, as the Silver Arrows aim to rectify their errors from last year.
The Brackley-based team failed to meet expectations in last year’s campaign, unable to maximize the potential of their ‘zero sidepods’ concept and eventually falling significantly behind Ferrari and Red Bull.
Despite showing some strong race pace in several events – Australia, Spain, Hungary, Brazil – there is still a substantial deficit for Mercedes to overcome this season.
Mercedes unlocked more performance as last season progressed, but when considering Ferrari and Red Bull switched their resources to focus on 2023 relatively early, this improvement should not be overstated.
In any case, the German squad has chosen to continue with its ‘zero sidepod’ philosophy for this season, defying convention and committing to their initial concept for these new regulations.
Whilst last year demonstrated the potential of this concept, the difficulties Mercedes encountered in putting the car in its best operating window proved a persistent limitation for the team.
The challenge for Mercedes will be to consistently find the competitive performance that it could only achieve sporadically last season.
Porpoising was also a huge issue for the Silver Arrows, forcing the team to completely re-adjust its set-ups and costing the team vital lap time.
Significant resources were also expended on addressing this problem, which prevented the team from focusing on purely performance-related upgrades for large portions of the season.
In any case, the consensus is that the ‘zero sidepod’ concept could be extremely effective – the question is whether Mercedes can achieve this with the W14.
Pre-season testing (just three days this year) will be crucial for the team to optimise its performance and understand whether the numbers from the simulator correlate to the data on-track.
The area where Mercedes has not deviated from the rest of the field concerns the exposed carbon on its 2023 car, with the team opting to save weight and get closer to F1’s limit by reducing the paint on the car.
the Silver Arrows – ironically – have returned to an all-black livery this season, opting for a relatively simple design to reduce weight and lead their title charge.