Mercedes work to convert wind tunnel data to on-track performance

08/04/2023

James Allison has outlined the work taking place behind the scenes at Mercedes to improve the W14 and push the team forward in the 2023 development race.

The Brackley-based squad was relatively pleased with its performance in Australia, proving capable of securing a podium finish and – at one stage – leading the race in 1 and 2.

Although Red Bull still has the fastest package with the RB19, there has been clear progress at Mercedes since the start of the year in Bahrain.

The first round of the season indicated Mercedes were the fourth-fastest team – at least in race trim.

This initial snapshot has been replaced with the more encouraging pace shown in Jeddah and Australia, where the Silver Arrows seemed capable of fighting for the title of second-best.

Toto Wolff, Lewis Hamilton, and George Russell have all been vocal about the limitations of the W14 – with all three suggesting that changes will be required.

Mercedes W14, George Russell 63

Whilst this is still the case if Mercedes are to contend for the Championship, the German squad’s 2023 machine is clearly not as flawed as the team might have suggested.

In some ways, the criticisms of the W14 speak to the high standards at Mercedes – a team unsatisfied with anything other than race victories and Championships.

However, as James Allison has explained, the team still has something to work with and build upon for the 2023 season:

“We are working as hard as we can in the wind tunnel to find more downforce.

“We will be working in the drawing office to convert the things that the wind tunnel found a few weeks ago into performance that we [can] deliver to the track.

“We will be working in the drawing office also to bring some mechanical parts to the car, some different suspension components that we think will help the underlying balance of the car and make it a more drivable thing. 

“Making it something that the drivers have more confidence to push right to the limits. 

“And we will be working on the normal sort of simulation loop and routine that allow us to prepare for the race weekends that are coming up. 

“Making sure that we land the car in the right place when we get to the race.”

It seems unlikely that Mercedes will fight for the Championship this year, with even Lewis Hamilton dismissing this as a realistic target.

Catching Red Bull at all in 2023 would be an impressive feat, let alone making enough progress to bridge the gap and then compensate for the points lost in the early rounds of the season.

The budget cap forces all F1 teams – including Mercedes – to be more selective and efficient with their spending.

As a result, the German Constructor will be forced to be pragmatic with its development and understand how much can realistically be recovered this year.

Some elements of the W14 will be difficult to improve until next year’s car, whilst other weaknesses are more fixable.

Therefore, with just three rounds of the season completed, the Baku GP will mark the beginning of a more intense period for the Silver Arrows – who will be forced to optimise their package in the short and long term.

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SEGUICI SU

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