Mercedes finally unveiled a change in development direction for the under-par W14, with a wide array of changes to the aero package while ditching their unsuccessful ‘zero-sidepod’ concept for what is being dubbed the W14-B.
An adventure into the unknown with the W13 reduced them from the once ‘Kings of F1′ to ‘also-rans’ in the space of an off-season, between 2021 and 2022 when the once serial winners lost their way. So much so, that a single win by George Russell in Brazil last year is all they have to show for their efforts.
This year the Mercedes W14 is not much better, perhaps maybe even worse than it’s predecessor. History shows that they persisted too long with a concept that they never understood, provided a myriad of false dawns, only to turn into disappointment and frustration. Inevitably, they lost touch with Red Bull, who now dominate F1 as the Silver Arrows once did.
The about-turn is long overdue for the team, but heading to Monaco, expectations are not high within Mercedes, and team boss Toto Wolff is not expecting instant success: “It won’t be a Silver bullet; from my experience, they do not exist in our sport. We hope that it gives the drivers a more stable and predictable platform. Then we can build on that in the weeks and months ahead.”
Much depends on the W14-B for Mercedes. So, what was seen in the Monaco pit lane?
Today, celebrity-packed Monte Carlo was all but ignored by the F1 paparazzi, as they all but camped in sight of the Mercedes pit garage to snap the latest offering from the former World Champs. Lenses focused on the side pods of the updated W14, which seems to be a clear copy of the all-conquering (so far this season) Red Bull RB19’s downwash sidepods, with some inspiration as well from Aston Martin and Alpine with an inside channel to enhance air flow.
How that will translate into lap times will be interesting, but it is a telling admission that Mercedes got their sums wrong for the past two seasons, and Red Bull are the benchmark to be followed, even copied, should the need arise.
Now that need has arisen, not only to wrench them out of the pit of mediocrity they find themselves in right now in their history, with Hamilton and Ferrari apparently courting which makes the need for the updated car to be quick out of the box to convince the Briton to stay, if indeed Ferrari are waving huge money for his swansong.
Not ideal to roll out a heavily revised F1 car at Monaco
However, Monaco is hardly the place that welcomes a roll-out of a brand new F1 car that is not built for the slow speed anomaly that is the Monte Carlo F1 track, but that was Fate playing with F1, as the Merc W14-B was scheduled to break cover at Imola, but the floods put a hold on that.
Thus, Monaco will probably reveal very little. However, worth noting as a rule of thumb, a good car around the place is better than a bad one. Really good F1 cars tend to go well and fast everywhere, the bad to mediocre ones are track specific.
A week after Monaco, Barcelona will provide a far better indication of where Mercedes are at with the new upgrade, and if they are closer to the dominant RB’s, or even to their own customers, Aston Martin.
The new Mercedes W14 is significantly different to the car they raced in Miami with, even to the naked eye. Under the skin, there is a new floor and front suspension, as they fall in line with Red Bull’s benchmark RB19, guided by that genius Adrian Newey and his formidable team back at Milton Keynes.
This weekend’s Round 6 of the 2023 F1 World Championship is expected to be another Red Bull rout. Time will tell if Mercedes have ‘repaired’ their problem and can challenge for wins again; Monaco has provided the first appetizer.
Mercedes revealed a striking new look to their W14 car as long-awaited major upgrades were revealed ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix 🔧
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) May 25, 2023