Are the New Upgrades Enough for a Victory Surge or Is It a Long Game for Mercedes?
Mercedes unveils its robust plan for an upgraded 2023 Formula 1 vehicle, a complex interplay between ambition and compromise. As the new W14 model breaks cover at Monaco, the brand grapples with design challenges, cost constraints, and performance enhancement.
Mercedes has a considerable number of enhancements planned for its upgraded 2023 Formula 1 vehicle, as they have identified aspects that could have been better executed.
The new front suspension, floor, and sidepods of the W14 model have been revealed at the Monaco Grand Prix, making their first appearance as part of the upgrade package after the cancellation of the anticipated race at Imola the previous weekend.
These modifications aim to enhance the aerodynamics, the mechanical base, and the set-up alternatives of the car, offering Mercedes a more profitable long-term development trajectory.
Even though the extent of the visible modifications has led some to call it ‘W14B’, Mercedes has decided to keep the original chassis due to the prohibitive costs of alterations under the cost cap.
This situation has led to certain design sacrifices, yet Andrew Shovlin, the trackside engineering director, is of the view that there are elements that Mercedes recognizes could have been implemented in a different manner.
Shovlin, while conversing with Sky Sports F1, expressed that upon inspecting the present car, they have realized that some elements could have been altered if they were to build it again.
“Starting from scratch makes optimization far simpler compared to making significant alterations midway through the development process.
“The silver lining, however, is that we now have a lengthy catalog of modifications that we intend to implement in the future.
“It’s indeed commendable that everything has come together by the sixth race. That’s testament to the remarkable effort put in by everyone at the factory.”
This car is just the initial version of what Mercedes envisions as a more competitive concept that would allow for accelerated development.
Rather than anticipating an immediate surge towards victory, the primary goal was always gradual and sustained improvement.
The cancellation of the Imola race, which pushed back the launch of the upgrades to Monaco, has underscored the need to focus on the long-term significance of these modifications, as this is hardly the perfect race to assess new developments.
According to Shovlin, it’s an “infamously challenging circuit” to adjust the car and comprehend its performance, even with a well-familiarized vehicle.
This was demonstrated during the first practice on Friday when Lewis Hamilton and George Russell had vastly different experiences. Hamilton, who was more content and significantly more competitive, made what Shovlin referred to as “some comparisons on set-ups across the cars”.
Shovlin mentioned that there have not been “major issues” with the upgrades, which is promising. However, he also admitted that a promising start does not guarantee much because there are “numerous ways to get it wrong at Monaco”.
Moreover, Mercedes is downplaying the immediate anticipated benefits from the upgrades and will withhold their verdict until the upcoming weekend at the Barcelona circuit, which is a more relevant benchmark.
“The reality is that you don’t design a car specifically for Monaco,” Shovlin explained. “You design it for your Silverstones and Barcelonas.
“The true challenge then lies in adapting that car design to perform on a different track, like this slow, bumpy, and extremely twisty circuit.
“That’s what we’re focusing on. It’s all about compromise. Bumps are problematic, making the ride difficult and necessitating a softer approach.
“Given the regulations, these cars do perform better when they are closer to the ground.
“What we need to delve into now is all these compromises and strive to find the optimal balance.
“Monaco is about instilling confidence in the driver. Lewis had that this morning, George didn’t. Hence, our focus now is on making those tweaks that will foster that confidence.”
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