It is now established that the Mercedes W14 was not only born badly, but already wrong before the 2023 World Championship began. A double consecutive error that led Mercedes AMG F1 boss Toto Wolff to admit all of this right from the pre-season tests in Sakhir and to assume full responsibility for what happened, although it was not he who designed and decided the dictates with which build the current single-seater.
Beyond the Austrian manager’s mea culpa – which, moreover, has become an increasingly rare commodity in Formula 1 and in sport in general – the Brackley team immediately decided to try to react as soon as possible.
The Mercedes engineers, directed by Mike Elliott, are already working to overturn the W14 project. Of course, it will take time to overturn a project that took months to complete. But the stop after Australia could be perfect to allow Mercedes to arrive at the European season with a completely new Freccia Nera.
Mike Elliott, technical director of Mercedes and responsible for the last two failed cars, explained what is the process that must lead the team to change the skin of a car born under the sign of a wrong philosophy and take it on the right path to recover the lost ground in the last 15 months.
“After Bahrain we had to accept that we weren’t where we wanted to be, so we had to look at all the elements that make up our car and figure out what we could do differently, how we could get more performance, why there’s a gap significant to fill in order to reach the first”.
George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14
Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images
“So, engineers are busy studying aerodynamics, car shape, things like belly geometry, bottom geometry, because maybe we missed some tricks? to the right things, we’re pushing the aerodynamics in the right direction, we’re looking at the mechanical set-up of the car.”
“Are there things we’re missing? What else can we add to the car to increase performance and we try to do it as quickly as possible, because we want to get back in front, we want to be competitive and the only way to do that is to accept that we’re not in the place we would like to be and fight and work hard to get back to.”
“First of all, our main goal at the moment is to keep learning. We’ve only had two races so far; it’s really hard to build trends from that. Actually, what we’re focusing on is trying to figure out how to keep progressing. “.
According to Elliott, Melbourne’s Albert Park will be a track in some ways similar to Jeddah, which is the last track where F1 raced and which saw Mercedes come close to the podium with George Russell. This could help the team progress further with the car currently in the hands of the British and 7-times champion Lewis Hamilton.
“Can we take the next step? Can we gain more knowledge to help us recover? In terms of the actual characteristics of the circuit, Australia is probably more limited and more like Jeddah than Bahrain. So hopefully we can do another little step forward, to become a little more competitive, to learn something that will help us progress in the long run”, concluded the engineer from Brackley.