Mercedes to bring ‘visible changes’ to W14 in ‘next few races’

Mercedes says it will bring “visible changes” to its W14 car in the next few races while more radical developments will appear later in the season as it attacks its performances issues head-on.

In pre-season testing in Bahrain, the Brackley squad rolled out what it believed was a gainful evolution of its 2022 design, a car that had finished last year’s campaign on a high note with a win in Brazil, thanks to George Russell.

But last weekend at Sakhir, Mercedes’ new-spec machine was no match for Red Bull, Ferrari and Aston Martin in qualifying and even less so on race day.

The W14’s worrying deficit was such that it led team boss Toto Wolff to finally recognize that the basic concept of it ‘zero sidepod’ design was flawed and would not allow Mercedes to be competitive in 2023.


As the team finds itself in crisis mode, a strong response is necessary. Wolff had already alluded to a reprofiling of the W14’s sidepods as being in the works. But more radical changes are also on their way according to Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin.

“People have tended to use the word concept when they mean the sidepod design,” explained Shovlin in Mercedes post-race debrief on YouTube.

“Toto had said recently that we’re looking at a revision that is going to come along in the next few races anyway.

  • Read also: Hamilton says Mercedes didn’t listen to him about 2023 car

“Given the gap to the front, of course we’re going to look at bigger departures, more radical changes.

“But those changes take time to turn into a faster solution in the wind tunnel. You can’t do them overnight, there’s quite a lot of development that you’ve got to do around any sort of big change in geometry in that area.

“So as I said, of course we’re looking at where we can improve the car. We’re looking for potential to develop and you will see visible changes coming on the car over the next few races.”

Mercedes’ problems appear to be rooted in its car’s significant lack of downforce, a plight that inevitably leads to excessive tyre degradation. Solving the former, which is no small task,  would prove beneficial to the latter as Shovlin explained.

“Ultimately we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said the Briton. “That gap in qualifying was quite large, we were over half a second to the front.

“In the race, that was even bigger though. That was compounded by the fact that once you get tyre degradation, you get a bit more sliding, the tyres run hotter and you end up finding it very difficult to keep them under any kind of control.

“There’s a lot that we need to understand. The key things are really getting on top of that long run degradation. Last year that was a strong point for us.

“Clearly we’ve got something that’s not in the right place that we need to work on.

“The other one is ultimately the performance gap to the front. The raw pace of the car is not good enough.

“We’re working very hard at the moment to understand what we can do in the short-term future and the mid-term future to try and get ourselves in a better place.”

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