The debut of the highly anticipated updated Mercedes W14 arrives at the iconic streets of Monte Carlo after the cancellation of the Imola GP. The 2023 Mercedes World Championship starts afresh with a W14 that has undergone an important change of appearance, not only in terms of aerodynamics but also mechanics.
The unsuccessful “zero-sidepods” concept developed by Mercedes technicians has led to a fundamental change in the German squad’s development for this year. The long-awaited new front suspension, coupled with new power steering, also makes its debut on the revised W14.
The aim will be to finally find more functional mechanical arrangements for these cars and their venturi channels.
However, it is far from ideal for the Brackley squad to introduce these updates at an “anomalous” track like Monaco, which is highly specific and not very representative in terms of data collection.
New front suspension “Anti-Dive”: A raised upper arm to a compromise between budget and frame constraints.
The Brackley team has carried out important work to increase the potential of the W14 project, which still carries the limitations of the old W13.
The front suspension layout has undergone a significant change in relation to the constraints present in the technical and financial regulations of this F1. Mercedes and Ferrari were the two single-seaters with a fairly “conventional” front suspension system, quite far from the current trend. Adopting a scheme that favours the reduction of set-up changes during the race through “anti-sinking” is one of the winning weapons with this new generation of single-seaters.
The new front suspension of the W14 present in Monaco is, in fact, a compromise to try to adopt different mechanical mappings, seeking the “anti-dive” effect to obtain a lower and above all constant ground clearance of the floor.
Red Bull has also led the way on the mechanical front with the use of a suspension scheme designed to reduce pitching phenomena, exploiting the same mechanics of the car to keep the height from the ground constant without the use of electronics, which is against the regulations.
The external and internal restyling of the suspension was done without revisiting the frame, which certainly represented an important limitation. It is evident to the eye how it was repositioned the front connection of the upper triangle brought higher than the wheel hub.
The front attachment has been brought to the limit of the upper edge of the frame, just like on the Red Bull and Aston Martin schemes, to maximize the angle of inclination of the arm. The rear arm remains in a lower position in order to exploit the arms aerodynamically to form the down-wash effect towards the new bellies.
From the front, you can clearly see the increased gap between the upper and lower arm compared to the old scheme, just like on Red Bull and its cousin Aston Martin.
The presence of the old anchor points, which are not very effective, confirms that the frame has not been modified. In terms of mechanical setup, the new geometry allows the use of softer springs, one of the main limitations of the old W13 and of the initial version of the W14.
Both were both subject to a trim window that was too narrow and too dependent on external factors. Monaco will, in fact, be a real test for teams and drivers, who will have to adapt part of their driving style to this updated machine.
The feeling under braking will change for the drivers with a single-seater that will be less sensitive to sticking forward. Russell – and especially Hamilton – have never been enthusiastic about the car’s driving position, which is more advanced than the competition and does not allow the driver to have an ideal view to evaluate distances.
The Brackley technicians, now led by the expert James Allison, will work to understand the W14 in the races after Monaco – and will continue towards Silverstone to ideally direct the team’s next developments.
Much of this information will be collected with next year’s car in mind, which should mark a clean break with the philosophy born with the W13.
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang