Mercedes started the 2023 season with a fundamental dilemma, largely stemming from the ‘philosophy’ or concept of the W14. However, as the halfway stage of the F1 season approaches, the Silver Arrows have a chance to prove their latest update represents a step in the right direction.
Red Bull enjoys a performance advantage over its rivals in almost all areas, but the Brackley-based squad have been consistently losing time in the slow-speed corners.
Even during the height of Mercedes’s dominance, Red Bull and Ferrari were often capable of challenging for victories at slow-speed tracks like Monaco or Hungary.
This vulnerability has continued, especially with Aston Martin emerging as a force to be reckoned with in the low-speed corners – although the Silverstone squad has suffered slightly in recent events.
Monaco was the first round Mercedes introduced their major upgrade packages to change their development direction, so taking any conclusions from this round would be inconsequential.
In any case, it was in Silverstone that the W14 received an update which – though low in quantity – is of great importance.
Technical Director James Allison has emphasised the importance of the new front wing brought in Silverstone, specifically introduced to make the German constructor more competitive in the low-speed corners.
“The specific characteristic of this new front wing that we’re excited about, is that it should improve the balance and performance of the car through the slower range of corners.
“What we took as comfort from Silverstone is that in the slower parts of the track, we were looking pretty decently competitive,” he explained in the Mercedes post-race debrief.
Although Mercedes’ competitiveness in Britain was underwhelming to many, the mini-sectors validate the more optimistic claims made by Allison.
Red Bull did not enjoy as substantial an advantage in the slow-speed sections of the track, with rivals – including Mercedes – making up ground in this area:
“That’s a tick in the box for this new front wing, but I guess it will only be when we get to Hungary, a track made up almost entirely of slower stuff, that we get to know for sure.
“Early signs are promising. The new front wing seemed to do what we expected. Hopefully, it will bring us more at tracks with a wide range of slower corners.”
Aston Martin and Ferrari will aim to correct the set-up and performance issues suffered in Britain, so the Hungaroring will be a true test of how the W14 can fare against its direct competitors.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang