Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2023

Mercedes optimistic they’re “in the right place for winter” with development plan

2023 Belgian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Mercedes will bring further upgrades to their W14, but the team’s focus is now on the design of next year’s car.

That is according to the team’s chief technical officer Mike Elliott after the team had introduced their latest upgrade at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Mercedes’ design direction has changed dramatically this season, having dropped its ‘zero-sidepod’ approach with an upgrade at the Monaco Grand Prix.

“In terms of what we’re trying to learn, what we’re trying to achieve, I think we can get that learning on this year’s car,” said Elliott.

“We’ve got to put the focus into the winter development, making sure we’ve understood all the lessons we can from this year’s car and then turn that into the right things for next year.”

There are minimal changes to Formula 1’s aerodynamic regulations for 2024, meaning updates being introduced to their car later this year can remain relevant to their 2024 design. But due to the Aerodynamic Testing Restrictions, the 2023 cars can not act as a test bed to try out a great variety of different ideas.

“You have to sort of pick a direction and go in it, and as you learn, you can tweak that direction, move it slightly. And I’d like to think we’ve sort of got ourselves into the right place for the winter,” explained Elliott.

“I think there’s still learning we can do, and there’s still P2 to fight for in the championship, so we’ll keep developing. But obviously our prime focus now is next year’s car.”

Elliott reckons the fight to finish second this season – with Mercedes currently holding an advantage of 51 points over Aston Martin in third – will not be a distraction in terms of development time and resources, now that they have committed themselves to focusing on 2024.

“I think when you look at trying to develop a brand new car, when you’re making architectural changes, it’s hard to sort of keep that pace in the [wind] tunnel. So in actual fact, some of the running we’re doing for this year’s car is just helpful learning, and it’s helpful learning at the track without really hindering next year’s car.”

There will still be further upgrades to the W14 after the summer break, Elliott says.

“Obviously, we brought a package here [to Spa]. There’s still some more to come, but I can’t say how much.”

Mercedes’ drivers complained their upgraded car bouncing during the Belgian GP as it was run at a low ride-height, with the issue believed to be down to a lack of set up optimisation.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Belgian Grand Prix

Browse all 2023 Belgian Grand Prix articles

Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

11 comments on “Mercedes optimistic they’re “in the right place for winter” with development plan”

  1. Problem is, racing is now.

  2. Pretty sure they said the same last year, albeit a bit later in the season but seems to be a common refrain from them only for them to underdeliver.

    1. Whether they build a winner or not is impossible to predict and also depends on what other teams do. However, since they stuck to the same failed concept for some inexplicable reason last year, it is pretty clear why they are only second best this year. But we have also seen from their Frankenstein sidepod upgrades they will deliver a proper car next year where the sidepods and the rest of the chassis can actually be integrated, so there’s little reason to assume they won’t make a step up.

      1. CheeseBucket
        7th August 2023, 19:45

        Little reason to assume? Like it’s ever that clear cut.

  3. They should upgrade the name of the car to FW14.

    Maybe that helps.

  4. Unless they’ve fire their staff from the last 2 seasons, then no, they have no chance. There is some type of organizational disfunction going on at Mercedes. They are unable to move away from their bad decision from 2 years ago. They are reluctantly, begrudgingly, away from that design. It isn’t an issue to try something new but when it is a failure, a complete failure, an epic failure, the organization needs to move on, and move quickly. I get the feeling that they only started moving forward during this season because HAM threatened to walk away from Mercedes. In Drive to Survive, Wolff said that they were going to park the car (from 2 seasons ago) in the lobby so they could look at it every day in the offseason as a reminder of a failed season. They start this season with the same car with minor changes. Something internal happened during the offseason where they stuck with the same design. We’ll see if they are truly committed to delivering a competetive car next season.

    1. Still the current car isn’t that bad it’s only not a automatic winner.

      1. Only automatic winners win championships though. Mercedes ain’t here to fill grid space.

      2. But the current position is mainly Aston Martin and Ferrari dropping the 🏀.

        1. Don’t know which team should be more depressed… Aston, who started off as the 2nd fastest team and is now 5th. They are still an outfit that is building and inexperienced, so its hard to be too critical of them. Or Ferrari, a team that ‘dropping the ball’ is synonymous with, so actually they’re just on their usual form of failing as the season progresses.

  5. Coventry Climax
    7th August 2023, 17:35

    Optimistic to be in the right place?
    They have a new GPS or so?
    Worried they’d all end up in France instead of at their own factory?

    Seriously, they can be as optimistic as they like, but that’s just a mindset and doesn’t get you results if there’s no knowledge, insight, and plan to work on.
    In my opinion, they still have no clue as to why their zero sidepod car doesn’t work, and equally still have no clue as to why their car bounces. Sure, they know it’s a bit better when they do this or that, but that’s not the same as real insight.

Comments are closed.