Wolff says upgraded F1 W14 will explain why previous version was “poisonous” to drive

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Mercedes F1 CEO and team boss, Toto Wolff has stated that the new, upgraded W14 car that is set to debut at the Emilia Romagna GP will help the team understand areas that made the initial version “poisonous” to drive.

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

Mercedes has been planning a massive upgrade package for the weekend in Imola since the aftermath of the opening race of the 2023 F1 season, after failing to see the expected improvements over the flawed W13 car and recognizing a need to change development direction.

Speaking to media after the race at the Miami GP – the last of the ‘A-spec’ W14 – Wolff said the new package will help the team understand key areas that made the previous car “poisonous” to drive, ultimately lacking downforce and a “stable” platform for the drivers and engineers:

“We’ll go to a more, let’s say, stable platform. And then we should see where the baseline is and what we can do from there.

“That’s why the upgrade that we’re bringing is going to help us to set the direction, and to understand the various areas that we believe could play a role in why the car is so poisonous to drive.”

The new upgrades for the W14 will debut at the first of three races of a triple header at the end of May, which takes F1 from Imola to Monaco and then to the Spanish GP. The Austrian believes that except for Monaco, having this sequence of races will only accelerate understanding of the new parts:

“I think we know what we are doing to the car, and really quickly we’ll see if that correlates with the virtual world.

“I think it’s good to have three races in a row, to understand what’s actually happening, and then it gives us maybe a little bit of a buffer later on to filter that and take the next decisions of what to do in terms of updates.

“But Monaco, between the two, it’s something that it’s a single lap issue, and a tyre that [has to] come into life quickly, and none of that we do [well]. So let’s see where we are in Imola.”

The 51-year-old outlined the main changes that can be expected and how the team now needs to test the correlation between its simulation tools and the car running on track – saying that in the “virtual world” the new parts generate good improvement in lap times:

“I think we are chasing downforce and we’re trying to do the best possible job in terms of the mechanical platform. What we’re doing is we’re introducing a new bodywork, and we’re introducing a new floor and we’re doing a new front suspension and that’s a pretty large operation, large surgery.

“It’s going to be a lot of learning. In the virtual world, it is good lap time.”

Wolff also confirmed that both cars of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton will be equipped with the new package starting by the next race, and confirmed the team will also have spare parts should it need them.

“We never introduce a new upgrade if we don’t have two sets plus one spare,” said Wolff.