Alfa Romeo has given us a glimpse of their 2023 package, the C43, which recently took to the track in Barcelona for the first official shakedown.
However, there are many important launches scheduled for next week. Monday will feature the long-awaited McLaren and Aston Martin unveilings.
However, the following two days (especially considering the underwhelming presentation by Red Bull) will likely generate the most interest among insiders and enthusiasts.
On Tuesday 14th , Valentine’s Day, the Ferrari SF-23 will be presented in Maranello. The following day , at Silverstone, Mercedes will unveil the W14 machine.
Mercedes W14: Silverstone launch, swiftly followed by a shakedown
Mercedes is expected to respond after a disappointing 2022 season severely impacted by the porpoising phenomenon.
Whilst the Silver Arrows claimed several podiums and occasionally fought for victories, they were generally reliant on Red Bull or Ferrari making mistakes to fight for wins, with the exception of Brazil .
The Mercedes W14, therefore, is the car Toto Wolff hopes can put the team back into Championship contention.
The former World Champions will unleash their 2023 car at Silverstone next Wednesday at 10.15 am , with Toto Wolff (team principal), Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in attendance. Mick Schumacher, the Brackley squad’s third driver, will also be present.
The usual renders will be shown, while the first images from the Mercedes W14’s filming day will not be published until 2 pm.
As for the Mercedes livery, major changes should be expected. The W14 will have more more black combination of last year, featuring the now well-known red color from one of the team’s major sponsors – Ineos.
There will be even more more black carbon on display, which will be part of an important effort to reduce the W14’s weight, which we have previously mentioned in recent weeks.
It is a trend we have already seen with Alfa Romeo’s C43 and will likely be replicated across the field in 2023 to reach meet F1’s minimum weight.
Teams will also rely on a ballast, albeit limited by the technical regulations, to be well positioned in terms of weight distribution.
Although the minimum weight will remain the same as last season, 798 kg, compared to the 796 kg initially expected, it will remain a major challenge for teams to slim down their cars.
This challenge has been compounded by the increase in the weight of the tires and other electronic and non-electronic components.
For this reason, even if a few kilograms are lost thanks to exposing carbon, it will become increasingly common for teams to limit the paint on their 2023 F1 machines.
Mercedes W14: Possible double-digit horsepower gain, though difficult to compare against rival teams
Despite the problems Mercedes encountered last season, they will not completely abandon the ‘zeropod’ aerodynamic philosophy from last year.
The basic concept of this innovative philosophy will remain, with the team positioning its radiators more internally to decrease the exposed surface.
The team is working intensely to prepare for next Wednesday’s presentation day, with some of the team’s personnel having to put in extra shifts to compensate for minor delays.
These problems stemmed from the late production of some parts at the factory, as modifications were made to the W14 project.
Development and simulation work continues vigorously in Brackley. The team is fully committed to the W14 project, with Toto Wolff outlining his expectations for the 2023 season:
“If the performances are what we hope for, we could be in the fight for the top of the standings.
“But we don’t take this progression for granted because the gaps that existed at the end of last season could still stay the same.”
These comments highlight Toto Wolff’s sensible philosophy of managing expectations before the year begins.
According to some of the latest whispers coming out of Brackley, the objective is for the Mercedes engine to gain ten horsepower as the German squad hopes to re-assert themselves as contenders.
Last season, with only a small reliability update on the crankshaft introduced at Spa, Mercedes slowly managed to show their engine’s potential, which played a crucial role in the team securing a win at the Brazilian GP.
At this stage of the year, based solely on the numbers coming out of the Simulators, Mercedes and Alfa Romeo are convinced the new aerodynamic rules will not negatively impact the performance of the new cars.
The changes have generally slowed the cars by half a second on the lap, tenth plus or tenth minus for everyone.
There is little doubt that many teams have already compensated for these losses, so the question is much time the teams have found before the start of the season. Jan Monchaux, Technical Director at Alfa Romeo, eluded to this earlier in the week.
The significance of the Pirelli tyres – which have been praised at Mercedes – cannot be overlooked, with the new tyres designed to reduce understeer and improve grip levels.
Power units are also expected to take a step forward across the board, though this has gone somewhat under the radar due to the regulatory engine freeze.
One of the most popular questions teams will face in pre-season will be: How much faster is the 2023 car on the Simulator compared to 2022?
After Mercedes’ significant blunder last season, arriving in Bahrain with a W13 that was a second slower than anticipated, personnel from the German squad have been hesitant to comment ahead of this year.
Although Mercedes anticipate a significant step forward to challenge the likes of Ferrari, nothing is guaranteed. This is especially true given the promising numbers emerging from Maranello.
As Toto Wolff has explained, “when you start with a half-second deficit, it’s difficult to catch up to the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari”.
If either Red Bull or Ferrari makes significant progress, the challenge will become even greater for Mercedes.
For this reason, Mercedes will hope that the theoretical gains found in the SF-23 (much like last year’s at Mercedes) are not translated on track.
Authors: Piergiuseppe Donadoni
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang