Mercedes prepare updates for Spa, focus will soon turn to 2024

Mercedes

The Silverstone GP is the home race for most teams, giving the event great importance on both an emotional and a technical level. With many teams’ factories just a few kilometres away from the track, it is common for teams to introduce upgrades

After Mercedes introduced a major update package in Monaco, which marked the beginning of a different development philosophy, the Silver Arrows took a few weekends to study these new parts before introducing further changes.

The new front wing worked as expected, but rivals have passed Mercedes

An important package of novelties was never expected for Mercedes at Silverstone, both in terms of timing and the overall quantity of new pieces. However, there was a certain optimism that Mercedes could put more pressure on Red Bull at Silverstone.

The only update studied by the technicians directed by James Allison for the English appointment is a completely revised front wing

As we have already been able to analyse, all the macro components have been revised, such as the main plane, the endplate and the flaps. The W14 has always enjoyed a rather strong front end, especially at high speeds and after the update package was introduced.

Mercedes’ goal with the new wing specification was to improve the car in corners at low speed through different airflow directions towards the floor, therefore influencing the general behaviour of the car.

The new Mercedes front wing – Illustration by Rosario Giuliana

The feedback from this first weekend was positive as the W14 improved its behaviour, especially in low-speed corners.

The technicians of the Anglo-German team worked a lot on the setup of the W14 during Friday’s free practice, with experiments planned to study the W14 in-depth and find the best window of use to extract its potential. 

However, Mercedes did not perform as expected in the fast section, also seeing how the rivals were not firm in advancing their cars, with which they made important progress, especially in one characteristic in which the W14 retained an advantage, i.e. the fast corners.

The latest innovations from McLaren, but also from Ferrari, have brought about important advances in speed, leading the MCL60 to overtake the W14 and the SF-23 on a similar level. 

In Brackley, the focus will therefore be placed on this factor, looking for another load to deal with the rivals.

“If we look at where Aston Martin was at the beginning of the year, behind Red Bull three tenths ahead of us, we are part of the development we have made, also because it is going in the right direction,” explained Andrew Shovlin.

Is that enough? No, we need more. Just look at where Mclaren was at Silverstone.”

Updates are due on the W14, but Mercedes will soon divert all its attention to the W15 project

The developments this season are proving to be substantial, with several teams that have even gone so far as to change their philosophy in racing.

Mercedes and Ferrari, in addition to Mclaren, have been forced to compromise on their developments due to the budget cap.

In fact, the chassis and rear suspension cannot be updated during the current season, although they will certainly be on the table of the designers, especially of the two teams mentioned above, as important and crucial innovations for next season.

Among the teams that would have liked to be more daring, for example, there is Ferrari, often accused of not being brave, but not in terms of updates, at least this season.

In Austria, the introduction of the fund and a new wing despite the format with the Sprint Race and only one hour of free practice, and the decision to be daring and fearlessly change its aerodynamic philosophy in Spain, as Mercedes had done.

Mercedes

The purpose of these latest developments is not just to improve 2023, but to quickly lay the foundations for 2024 with conviction. 

In fact, Mercedes did not expect a crucial step forward with all the updates brought to the track so far, including the new front wing.

Instead, it aimed to improve the behaviour of the car and continue on its path, looking for answers for the future with the aim of aspiring to fight for the world championship next year.

Positive responses even if the deck is still short because while Mercedes improves in slow-speed corners, it loses the advantage over its direct competitors in fast driving, maintaining the important problems relating to a very ‘light’ rear and excessive resistance to forward movement, which penalizes the W14 in a straight line.

However, pushing a lot on developments for 2023 remains complicated due to the technical and spending limits in place.

Further updates will arrive on the W14 in the next races, especially at Spa, the result of work carried out in recent weeks, designed to understand and improve the Anglo-German car step by step, race by race. 

However, the time is approaching at the factory when the focus will be exclusively on the W15.

In recent weeks, the working groups in the factory were dividing the workforce and, above all, the resources available, such as the hours in the wind tunnel and in the CFD, on the two projects.

The ‘switch’ will soon arrive with full focus on next season, leaving the latest (few) updates already studied as a dowry, which we will see debut during the second part of the season, where the budget cap will increasingly be a conditioning factor for all teams.

Authors: Piergiuseppe Donadoni & Paolo D’Alessandro

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang