Mercedes show off new upgrade package

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Monaco, Monte Carlo Circuitmc

On the eve of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, Mercedes showed off their long-awaited upgrades for their troubled 2023 F1 car which includes new sidepods, front suspension and floor.

Mercedes started off the season in hope of improving their performance compared to their difficult 2022 season. The Brackley-based outfit that dominated the first phase of the hybrid engine era fell back when Formula One introduced radically new cars last year.

While the new generation cars looked fairly similar, it turned out immediately that significant differences could be discovered in terms of the suspension configurations and sidepod concepts of the different cars.

Mercedes followed a different route to the majority of teams by introducing a distinctive sidepods concept that has been referred to as zero-pod as the sidepods were reduced to very narrow inlets.

By contrast, Red Bull introduced a radically undercut sidepod design, using the downwash effect of the middle section of the car. Following a third philosophy, Ferrari developed an inwash concept that incorporates sculpted sections that are aimed at reducing the drag level produced by the wake from the front tyres.

Despite their troublesome 2022 season that saw Mercedes take a singly victory and finish behind Red Bull and Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship, the Anglo-German team retained faith in their revolutionary concept for the 2023 F1 season. However, the team started the new campaign well off the pace which urged Mercedes to alter its concept.

Initially, the upgrades were scheduled for last weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, but with the race having been cancelled due to the severe floods, Mercedes was forced to postpone the introduction of the new packed. However, the team did not want to wait until next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, but it was eager to give the new development route debut in Monaco despite the difficulties of the shortest track on the calendar.

In Monaco, Mercedes’ long-awaited upgraded W14 has finally broken cover with the team hoping that the new concept will give a platform to build on in the future. However, speaking ahead of the weekend, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff played down the significance of the upgraded package.

“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.

“F1 is tough competition and a meritocracy. We are not where we want to be but there's no sense of entitlement. It's just about hard work to get us to the front,” concluded Wolff.

The images posted by respected journalist Albert Fabrega show that Mercedes ditched the zero sidepod concept that it has clung on to since the introduction of the brand-new F1 car generation at the start of the 2022 season. The Brackley-based outfit’s solution has been referred to as zero-pod as the sidepods were reduced to very narrow inlets.

In fact, it was not only the Mercedes team that followed this development route with the Williams squad having also experimented with this solution previously. However, the Grove-based outfit abandoned this concept and changed to the Red Bull’s philosophy.

With the new configuration, Mercedes seem to have switched to a more conventional route, building on the downwash concept with elongated sidepods. However, the team opted against an extremely undercut design developed first by Red Bull and copied by seven other F1 teams. It is thought that Mercedes will refine its sidepods for next season, but they have been limited for now in the scale of the undercut due to the existing side-impact bars of the W14.

The top surface of the sidepods is reminiscent to the one used by Aston Martin and Alpine with Mercedes’ new design incorporating a series of longitudinal cooling outlets.

Moreover, the team has also introduced tweaks to the front suspension, similar to Red Bull's anti-dive layout also featuring. The design targets to limit dive under braking and squat during acceleration, allowing the car to be run closer to the ground which has been priority since the introduction of the ground effect cars.

The W14's front suspension has gone through significant changes with the front leg of the top wishbones mounted in a higher position. The new arrangement allows a significantly greater anti-dive angle which should theoretically provide the car with a more stable aerodynamic platform.