Mercedes W14 Technical Analysis – 2023 F1 season

The W14 has been unveiled and completed its first laps at Silverstone, with Mercedes hoping this machine can put them into Championship contention for 2023.

As we previously reported, this year marks the return of an all-black livery at Mercedes, taking up the colours sported by the German team in 2020 and 2021.

The W14 has not abandoned its general concept from last year, with several aerodynamic features from last year – including the ‘zero sidepods’ – staying as features in 2023.

Specifically, the team has worked to correct the aspects of last season’s design which – despite the encouraging simulator data – failed to deliver on track. 

“If we look at where we were last year, we have definitely made some steps forward. We knew it was going to be a challenging winter and that we would have to work hard.

“It has been amazing to see the efforts from the two locations and the number of hours and ideas for us to arrive at the design that we have before us”, said Technical Director Mike Elliott.

Refined front end with new front suspension

The front of the W14 has the most similarities compared to last season. The 2023 car still has an elongated nose that extends to the maximum permitted limit, resting on the main plane.

Mercedes has chosen to persist with a long nose. This is a diversion from Ferrari, who adopted a shorter “Red Bull style” nose, opening the front wing between the main plane and the second flap.

The front wing has a more up-washed flap design at the centre, with a more rectangular shape throughout the wing body.

The wing – as a whole – has undergone various changes, including the area where the endplates affect the nose and on the outer edge of the main profile.

The most interesting part of the W14’s front end is the suspension, with redesigned wishbones, although the overall push-rod layout remains.

In this solution, Mercedes and Ferrari converge with their 2023 cars, as Brackley also decided to align the steering column with the lower suspension triangle.

This makes it possible to slightly lower the W14’s centre of gravity – whilst also making better use of the upper arms aerodynamically – allowing them to divert airflow towards the sides and the bottom.

Last season at Silverstone, Mercedes introduced an upgrade that adjusted the attachment of the upper triangle to the chassis.

This, as a result, diverted airflow to increase down-wash, creating a greater flow of air towards the cooling and, most importantly, in the upper edge of the floor.

This configuration remains effective, also thanks to the new frame, which has allowed a more functional arrangement of the suspension attachments.

The W14 is a cross between Ferrari and Red Bull, but last year’s sidepod concept remains

The most intriguing part of the W14 launch was undoubtedly the sidepod configuration.

Even amidst the team’s difficulties last year, the engineers and technicians never hinted that the problem with the W13 was solely related to the “zero sidepod” design.

Mercedes’ aerodynamic problems last year were largely linked to “porpoising”, which forced engineers to compromise with set-up.

Technical Director Mike Elliot has discussed this theme:

“We wondered if we had taken the wrong path and if, as a consequence, we had to change our philosophy. [But], from last year’s car, there were many good ideas and aspects that worked.”

The key for Mercedes has been to improve upon the foundations of the W13 rather than starting from scratch since the problems were not directly related to a fundamentally incorrect concept.

The W14’s sidepods are not as drastically closed or short as last year’s, but they are still a direct evolution. The sidepods have been extended towards the rear, resulting in something of a hybrid between Ferrari and Red Bull’s philosophy.

The shape of the cooling vents has been revised in its entirety to be smaller at the bottom.

This is especially noticeable because the lower anti-intrusion cone is now completely embedded in the floor and no longer inside the cooling vent.

Many of the W14’s new features are related to the car body in the upper area, with a new bonnet replacing the one that Red Bull proposed last season – including high and wide vents.

Ferrari, and as a direct consequence Haas, are the only two single-seaters to have the rear train closed around the exhaust.

Regarding the floor, judgments can be deferred to the final version we see on track in Bahrain.

It will be interesting to see how Mercedes has approached this area after the changes to the regulations, which require the walls to be 15mm higher.

The changes made to lower the W14’s weight are equally important. The black livery is the result of more exposed carbon and – therefore – less paint on the car. 

Lighter floors and a new chassis should bring the Mercedes W14 to a level close to the minimum weight of 798 kg.

Few changes to the rear – Heavy focus on the 2023 Power Unit.

The rear of the car has – at least based on the presentation – undergone fewer major interventions than last year’s car.

The rear wing is almost identical to the W13’s at the end of 2022, with similar endplates and elongated ‘ears’.

The Mercedes W14’s rear suspension keeps the pull-rod layout (as expected after the Aston Martin presentation), with minor improvements to improve airflow above the diffuser.

The general layout of the suspension has not changed significantly, confirming that the gearbox has not undergone any massive changes.

The main focus on mechanics can instead be traced back to the reliability of the 2023 Power Unit after the steps forward made with the latest specification introduced at Spa 2022.

The interventions – made by regulation exclusively for issues related to reliability – concerned the endothermic part of the engine.

Hywel Thomas, technical lead of the Power Unit department, explained:

“Mike Elliott and I are working very closely. We have seen much of the development that is happening on the new car.

“I know that the whole team has worked hard to fix the problems we encountered in 2022.

“I have seen the constant developments we have brought to Brixworth. Will it be enough? I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it will be a better car than last year.”

Author: Rosario Giuliana

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang

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