Mercedes: New floor and front suspension ready for Imola

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Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

After a difficult start to the season, due to a slow and complex W14, Mercedes has decided to abandon the concept of the ‘zero pod’ car to approach other philosophies. Not only that, because to solve some chronic problems with the project, the arrival of a new bottom and a new front suspension is expected for the Imola GP.

The start of the 2023 season proved to be undoubtedly complex for Mercedes and far from expectations. In fact, as happened in 2022, Toto Wolff’s team put an underwhelming car on the track, difficult to drive and understand and, inevitably, not very competitive.

A car which, with data in hand, brought the English team to third position in the constructors’ standings (also thanks to Ferrari’s bad start to the championship), behind both the extraordinary Red Bull and a customer team like Aston Martin.

A situation which, in recent months, has caused and is causing many headaches for the technical staff directed by James Allison (recently called back into service to turn the situation around) to understand how to make the W14 work in the first races and, above all, to understand which development direction to take: abandon the ‘zero pod’ concept or continue to believe in this philosophy.

Development direction which, according to the latest rumors from Brackley, would seem to go towards the concept of the Red Bull car (albeit only in broad terms). Not only that, since according to what reported by the newspaper ‘‘, the Mercedes updates should make their debut, in two or three different steps, on the occasion of F1 landing in Europe, therefore starting from the Made in Italy GP at Imola. The other steps however, in the same way as Ferrari, will come during the following GPs, Spain above all.

“Having identified the car’s flaws prior to the tests in Bahrain, the team has begun constant work on a revised car, with the first major update scheduled for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at the end of May.”

Updates that will be aimed at solving some of the main problems from the W14, while for others it will not be possible to intervene during the current season. In fact, some will need a more in-depth and sometimes structural review (also due to the stringent constraints imposed by the financial regulation), which can only be done during the winter.

Despite this, the innovations arriving at Imola will try to solve some chronic defects of the 2023 single-seater, namely driveability, lack of downforce and sensitivity to variations in ground clearance. For this reason, the technicians directed by Allison have prepared two important innovations: a new bottom (useful for generating downforce without increasing drag, another area where the W14 loses a lot to its rivals) and a new front suspension.

“Allison pointed out that the team is working on getting more downforce, but the engineering group is also working on a revised front suspension which will help the overall balance of the car to make it more drivable.”