George Russell, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2023

First pictures: Mercedes keep slim sidepods but go back to black with new car

2023 F1 season

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Mercedes have unveiled the W14, the car they plan will bring them back to title-winning success in Formula 1.

Officially called the ‘F1 W14 E Performance’, the car will be driven by seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, who picked up his first F1 win with Mercedes last year. After eight successive seasons of being world champions, Mercedes fell to third in the constructors’ standings in 2022.

Joining the team as reserve driver this year is former Haas driver Mick Schumacher, whose father Michael raced for Mercedes in F1 between 2010 and 2012.

The team saw its run of eight consecutive constructors championship victories come to an end last year.

2023 Mercedes W14 - George Russell colours
Russell’s car has green highlights, Hamilton’s are yellow
“When I look back, overall it was a difficult season,” team principal Toto Wolff admitted. “It was that we started with a car that was really not good, and we tried to figure out what happened and it was difficult at times.

“But also managing your own emotions, because we had races that were pretty encouraging like Barcelona. And then you go back to some tracks where the car didn’t perform at all. So the learning is I think we have a better understanding for what happened with the car, the personal learning is you know how to cope with a season that overall wasn’t very successful.”

They only scored a single win, at the penultimate round of the season in Brazil, after suffering porpoising problems with their previous car.

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“Obviously towards the end the car got quicker and finally George and Lewis were able to drive something that was a little bit more predictable and we had some highlights like Interlagos.”

Throughout the season it faced questions over whether it would retain the aggressive sidepod design used on the W13. The first images of the team’s new car indicates it has.

However the team has returned to the black livery it raced during 2020 and 2021, having switched to silver last year. Several of their rival teams have presented cars with more bare carbon panels as they strive to reduce weight. Mercedes previously ran their car in black to show support for racial diversity.

The W14 will be driven for the first time in a shakedown test at Silverstone today. Team principal Toto Wolff admitted they are looking to see the first signs the porpoising problems which plagued last season have been addressed. “Hopefully when we do the shakedown in an hour or so’s time the car is going to behave,” he said.

Pictures: 2023 Mercedes W14

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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70 comments on “First pictures: Mercedes keep slim sidepods but go back to black with new car”

  1. As a Ferrari fan they made it look even more bad ass

  2. I see more development by politics in the future.

    1. No paint, no weight. Tot didnt sound happy about the livery but happy about the weight loss. This this looksnalugly tho with those deformed (isn’t)sidepods

    2. I see what you did there :) The first thing they will be probably lobbying for is a weight increase.

      1. @tifoso1989 I assume you’re only joking, but the minimum weight will either be 796 as still planned or the same as last season, so definitely no higher.

        1. Coventry Climax
          15th February 2023, 11:21

          ‘Definitely’, are you sure?
          With the FIA it’s always ‘Definitely maybe’.
          (Quoting the recently deceased biggest guitar hero of mine.)

          1. @Coventry Climax
            Yes, fully given that either 796 or 798 will the minimum requirement for the upcoming season.

        2. @jerejj
          The original limit was set at 795kg, but before the start of the 2022 the limit increased by 3kg as teams struggled to meet it. All the teams agreed on the weight increase though the 3kg was a compromise as there were teams pushing for a higher increase.

          1. @tifoso1989
            No, 768 was the original (back when 2021 was still the planned debut season on the 2019 US GP Thursday), followed by separate changes to 775, 790, 792, & 795 before ultimately resorting to 798.
            Therefore, 795 was only one of several chosen before the final.
            BTW, you literally copy-pasted another site as I immediately recognized the phrase word-by-word (I happen to also visit that site daily), so fell into their trap.

          2. Coventry Climax
            15th February 2023, 17:40

            Given that there was no weight limit in 1950 – 1960, and that the first weight (actually mass) limit was set at 450 kg in 1961, cars have gone up in weight by 100 x ((797 (let’s take the average) – 450)/450) = over 77% since 1961 (and who knows by how much compared to before that).
            Ridiculous, given that fuel consumption is directly related to the amount of weight you need to drag around corners and accelerate and slow down constantly.
            The pinnacle of motorsports could have been at least twice as high if the FIA had not forbidden all sorts of developments over the years, with the FIA’s current fuel mileage met many, many years ago already.

          3. Depends how you look at it @ Coventry Climax…
            During that period road cars have gone from 600 kg (?) to 2000 kg (?). That would be 233% then. All is relative… ;-)

          4. @jerejj
            I was talking about the actual 2022 weight limit not the intended limit that was set when the rules were written. I still don’t get your point. What trap ? I remember exactly that the limit was altered before the start of the season, a simple google search will suffice to get the exact info.

          5. @tifoso1989 My point about falling into a trap was that you mistook the other site’s paragraph you copy-pasted as wholly accurate info.
            Yes, Google search suffices & yes, the limit was altered before the season started, but more than once, as referenced in my previous reply, & I remember all figures that were chosen at any point as I noted each one at the time of reporting & generally pay attention to details.
            The 768-775-790-792-795-798 route was, I guess, a result of indecisiveness & struggle in measuring how much all revelant components, including different-sized tyres truly weigh, which caused the chosen limit to change so many times before finally getting set in stone for good.
            Yes, choosing 798 when the rules were published would’ve been easy, but hard to know at the time how challenging weight reduction would be for teams.

          6. @jerejj
            Fair enough !

      2. Set the minimum mass at 600 kg, remove the minimum weight limit and c.g. for the engine and battery (2026) and make a maximum wheel base that is reasonable and see what happens. After all, these billion dollar valued teams could do something I suspect.

        1. @stever A minimum mass of 600 kg (i.e., the minimum car+driver weight requirement from 1997 to 2003) for modern & future cars would be effectively unachievable.
          A nearly 200 kg reduction would effectively force a return to cars from that era, meaning zero hybrid stuff, no Halo or any other improved safety features & structures, etc., & the latter is a definite no-go, given how much FIA cares about safety generally.
          Even returning to the 2015-16 equivalent limit would probably be a struggle.
          Removing the limit & c.g. (I’m unaware of this reference) for engine & battery, I’m unsure how workable such a solution would be, but a mandated maximum wheelbase would be good.

    3. Well there was almost a calamity last year with extreme reliability, fortunately they caught it at that last moment. Now they can search and make adjustments to mitigate that unreliability.

      1. @tifoso1989 I should’ve been more precise by typing ‘you’ fell into their trap.

  3. Silver Arrows anyone?

    1. Black is the new silver. The cars were silver at the time as they scraped off the paint to reduce weight. Today, Carbon fiber has replaced aluminium as a weight saving material. It was well explained by Toto Wolff.

      I am happy they reduced the ineos red at the airbox intake. With the accent colors, this car is just bad ass!

    2. Well, silver oxide is black… so, technically… ;)

      1. With encrusted copper oxide here and there.

  4. Maybe the FIA need to introduce a paint weight allowance so that teams can actually colour their cars again.

  5. It’s pretty ironic that the myth about why Mercedes is silver is the reason why they’re black!

    1. Haha, so true!

  6. It’s ok it’s just lack of sponsors and car number being yellow otherwise it could have been 8 but it’s 6

  7. In hindsight, they should’ve simply kept black for last season rather than returned to silver only for a single season before reintroducing black as the primary livery color.
    The noticeable differences from 2020 & ’21 are yellow driver numbers (& small yellow portion on the tyre covers), which I don’t mind, as yellow fits equally well against black.

    1. Edit: I should’ve paid more attention to details: Green numbers & tyre cover portions for Russell.

  8. It looks to me like they have kept the same squashed side-pods approach to the car. Yes?

    I prefer silver but the car looks quite good livery wise. Better than last year’s probably.

  9. Perhaps F1 needs a rule about the minimum weight of paint, so we don’t end up with 20 (24?) carbon liveried cars racing around a track.

    1. Or they can just make the car a bit shorter. These things are about 5500mm long! That’s huge, and considerably larger than even something like a Volvo V70 station car.

    2. Unfortunately, there’s no way to police such a rule.

      1. Perhaps they could have a rule that all parts of the car need painting, therefore any black needs to be painted on.

        1. It’s lighter to paint carbon black than any other colour, so you’d end up in the same place we are already, just with heavier cars.

      2. @proesterchen
        If the paint composition and viscosity are known to the rule maker then they could perhaps find a relationship between the weight of the paint and the surface the surface that is painted. It also has to take the painting process and tools into account. I’m sure the rule makers and the F1 engineers are cleverer than me and can implement an anti-black carbon metric same as the anti-porpoising metric or as Sam suggested by simply specifying the parts that needs to be painted.

        1. So it’s Sunday after the race and a team has just lodged a protest against a car or cars because they’re allegedly running afoul of whatever clever paint rules you came up with the force colour onto the cars.

          What happens next?

          1. *to force colour

          2. @proesterchen The same as happens with any protest regarding technical regulations. The FIA investigates and asks the team to provide data to prove they are in compliance. FIA then decides whether they are satisfied with the data provided, and if not then consider the appropriate penalty to apply.

    3. @Dex Mandating something trivial such as paintjob would be overkill with already more than enough regulations.
      Nothing wrong with using bare carbon, so teams should be allowed to design their liveries as they see fit.

    4. The problem with that though is what would stop a team putting all the paint on a certain area of the car to act as ballast?

      Even if you say the entire body work needs covering what stops them giving it a light mist?

      The colour of the cars is marketing at the end of the day, let that decide how critical it is how they appear. Ferrari will always want to be red, and the other teams will strike a balance over marketing and performance

  10. Interesting nose. It is touching all the front wing panels.

    1. Yes! That’s a very interesting detail. Probably saves a good bit of weight

  11. Oooh, that’s a pretty nose. I hate the black paint though – it’s hard to see the car well. Or maybe that’s for the better with those ugly sidepods.

  12. Pretty dull look, but if it’s fast nobody will care. Hopefully Mercedes can be competitive and there will be three way battles for most wins this year. Domination is boring no matter the team or driver who does it, and fans only benefit when it’s close at the top and with a Russell-Hamilton line-up Mercedes has a very strong set of drivers.

    If Mercedes can have a strong start it might also keep them from playing too much politics and getting their ‘acquaintances’ at the FIA involved. That definitely soured the last two seasons, and it’s not a good look for the team as whole either.

    1. Coventry Climax
      15th February 2023, 11:53

      I’m not a fan of mr. Wolff. I’m also no fan of the FIA.
      Both are no secret.
      But you can argue whether the team bosses just exploit the options given to them.

      In the end, this political game playing is something the FIA can -and should, in my opinion- easily solve, by just shutting down the counters for team complaints. They would then also need to get the rules wording much more water tight. Some recently suggested that it would take lawyers to do so, but that’s just ridiculous, given what it takes to just correctly implement even the regular law books. Furthermore, lawyers have no technical knowledge whatsoever.
      So all it takes is competent people, and it should start with the FIA taking control and responsability back for what used to be their Formula, instead of spreading out the power over ever more people, institutions and legal teams.
      The FIA however, just happens to be an incestuous old men’s club that likes the extra attention and loves the extra income that comes with controversy – while saying they aren’t and don’t.
      Actually, they adore the controversy so much that it will never happen.

      1. Agreed, it’s ultimately the FIA’s responsibility to decide whether or not they listen to any one team’s complaining. Note that I’m not blaming Wolff & co. for doing what they did. As you say, the ultimate decision is with the FIA. But that Mercedes decides to go down this road time and again does reflect on their team as a whole. Not everyone will care of course, such is always the case.

    2. Another teams behaviour definitely soured the last 2 years championships but it was not Mercedes for me. Why do you think do many Ferrari personnel made it into the FIA for the previous decade? The most successful teams will generally have the most desirable personnel for others to hire. I guess Mercdedes are going to use the huge number of staff that were poached all over the grid to help them too in your weird world.

      1. Coventry Climax
        15th February 2023, 17:57

        For people to leave their workspot and employer may take many reasons and any combination thereof, and it is different for each individual. Ultimately though, if the employee is valuable, the -former- employers failed to provide the circumstances to keep the employee happy, and the new employer seems like or even says he can or will.
        Whether that turns out to be true is another matter.
        A company that looks for high class personnel, will offer the work circumstances that go with that. They attract personnel that somehow already had become unsatisfied with their previous employer and/or sees opportunities that weren’t offered in the old environment.
        And now you say a company looking for personnel is to blame?

        1. When you’re pushing the boundaries on budget, of course other teams can offer more to poach staff that you can’t then match. Statistically speaking, pay is the most common motivator for people to leave.
          Needless the point was that if ex Mercedes employees are such a concern at the FIA then why aren’t they a concern when hired by other teams. I was specifically countering the point that ex Mercedes employees hired by the FIA is a problem when of course it isn’t.

  13. Am I alone in being really happy the kept the sidepods (in the cupboard)?

    1. They’re very slim, but they’re no longer quite so alien looking. The shape and flow is more pleasant to the eye– hopefully it’s more pleasant to the air as well. This car looks far more refined than the W13.

  14. Those side-pods are extremely interesting. I originally thought they’d just stuck with the zero-pod approach from last year, but actually they are somewhere between the 2022 car and the Redbull/Ferrari approach. The side pods are now much more defined on both vertical and horizontal surfaces and far less blob like than last year. Can’t wait to see how things stack up in just over 2 weeks time.

    1. Yeah they are very different to last year. It feels like they have managed to reduce the opening slightly and a key factor seems to have been removing the huge bump at the front of the sidepod area towards the floor edge. Hope the concept works this year otherwise we’ll be waiting for 2026 before they’re competitive again.

      1. Exactly that @slowmo more refined and detailed.

        Last year it almost looked like they’d just shrink wrapped whatever was underneath the side pods which created a really strange, uneven and rounded shape. This year it’s sculpted to a more traditional sidepod shape with additional surface area above while still being extremely thin.

        Overall a really interesting development which hopefully sees the drivers getting some wins and being in a Championship fight this year.

  15. The looks like at any moment Batman gona get out or in to it… Bad ass on another level. Looks cool looks fast looks mean. Lets hope that translates into pure speed and agility on track. Excited for 2023 now. Whens the first race???!!??

    1. Love this comment btw @wayne

  16. I cant wait to see how and what FIA, RB gona do this year to keep Lewis from winning his 8th championship if that car is even atleast similar in speed and performance to the redbulls.

    1. He has to try and beat George first………..

      1. Other than Brazil, he pretty much owned George the second half of 2022.

        1. But that would imply that George owned Lewis the first half of the season, either way, first job as a driver is to beat your teammate, and Lewis failed at this last year. So his number 1 priority this year is to beat George. nothing else

  17. I thought it’s illegal to have two different liveries for same team? Didn’t BAR try that but got rejected?

    1. Yes, but the wording is a bit vague (Article 9 of the Sporting Regulations); “Both cars entered by a Competitor must be presented in substantially the same livery at every Competition, any significant change to this livery during a Championship may only be made with the agreement of the FIA and the Commercial Rights Holder.”

      The point is that the cars should look the same at every race (rather than be the same between the cars). This as opposed to Indycar’s common in-season switches between liveries for specific events. But there’s some room for interpretation. Still, the only difference between these cars is the colour of the driver numbers. While there are no specific regulations on this, its been common to differentiate them (Mercedes used flags inside the font before).

      The first car (Russell) has the black on-board camera and the second car (Hamilton) has the fluorescent yellow. That is mandated by the regulations, so I guess Hamilton wanted that colour for his numbers as well, so they gave him the second car.

  18. Black cars are the prettiest in the studio and the ugliest on track.

  19. Mercedes car last year even from the 1st race was always fast. Their problem was that it was too fast hence the porpoising. They then had to reduce the performance to reduce the porpoising. Once they understood and understand their porpoising issues and other challenges they have and will again achieve the performance they expected or even better this year.

  20. I thought blue was Russell’s colour.
    But maybe green is greener. How many bandwagons can you jump on at once?

  21. Once you go black …

    I’m glad to see they returned to the black paint job vs the silver. I always thought the silver was pretty bland. Having said that, I hope we don’t see 20 black cars on the grid.

  22. The previous black livery was much better. The usage of turquoise or teal on the front wing was quite amazing especially on the W12. (Although I have found the AMG-wallpaper on the engine cover lacking on idea or implementation.)

    This carbon black is not amazing for me. A bit flat, like Minardi was. But I do not want to hurt Minardi, I have actually liked them. Although I never understood what is so beautiful in all of those carbon parts on tuner cars. I consider it something overhyped.

    Personally, as it is hard to meausre percentages of an F1 car’s surface, and other restrictive ideas about the paintjob, I would look for a very simple solution. Like: Some of the car parts are allowed to be unpainted carbon (and those are typically the ones which were unpainted before people found this let’s be very clever about painting in F1), all of the others must have a pantjob.

    Interestingly, most often I have liked matte paintjobs. But maybe only as part of diversity.

    1. There is something I undoubetdly like about the new Mercedes livery.
      The much bigger three pointed stars on the engine cover. It is much better than when there were too much of them, and uncomparably better than the AMG-wallpaper. When I have thought about how the engine cover featurning the stars could be better, one of my ideas was this, or very similar, bigger or/and variable sized ones with a nice gradient :) Nice to see they have done a good job with the gradient as well.

  23. front part of the nose and wing reminded me of that black ’99 cart with an upswept tip.

  24. No Merc fan in the slightest but this is a good looking car!

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