Why Mercedes has not ‘thrown away’ old concept for its W14 F1 car

Why Mercedes has not 'thrown away' old concept for its W14 F1 car

The eight-time constructors’ champions unveiled its striking looking 2023 F1 challenger at Silverstone on Wednesday morning.

While much of the focus was on the new black colour scheme, with the team stripping back to raw carbon fibre to save weight, there are some other big steps on the car.

The W14 features revised front and rear suspension, as well as notable changes to the shape of the bodywork in a bid to better manage airflow and help reduce drag.

However, the launch version showed that the team had not abandoned the ‘zero-pod’ concept of last year’s W13, and in fact had actually got more aggressive with the shape of its sidepods.

Technical director Mike Elliott explained that the team’s focus over the winter was on improving key areas rather than starting over with some all-new direction.

“It’s all going to be in the details, and it’s a lot of the bits that you can’t see,” he said. “Particularly under the floor, there’s going to be a lot of development.

“I think some of the key bits for us, we’ve completely changed front and rear suspension, trying to help with the weight of the car, but also trying to help with some of the handling.

Mercedes W14

Photo by: Mercedes AMG

“You’ll see there’s quite significant changes in the bodywork, but the core DNA is still the same.

“We’ve sort of looked at every single area and said: ‘Well, how can we improve what we’ve done?’ We looked at the problems we had last year and said, how do we guarantee as best we can we don’t have those problems this year. So it’s all in the details.”

Elliott said that as the team dug into what had gone wrong with the W13, it felt that there were actually some very strong elements to the car.

And while it did evaluate abandoning the design direction, it concluded that refining what it had would put it in much better stead.

“If you look at the periods we had huge success, it’s easy to take the car you’ve got and think: ‘well, we will just build on that.’

“I think at times last year, we were questioning ourselves and saying, have we made a major mistake? Do we need to change what we’re fundamentally doing?

“But I think we know if we go in, and sort of tear it all up and start again, you know you’re going to start further backwards. So it’s about making those right decisions.

“Although we had problems with the car last year, I think there was also a lot of goodness in the car. There’s also a lot of things that did work for us.

“I think the drivers have talked about reliability, and that’s been good. So I think you have to be careful and not just throw it all away and start again.”

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