George Russell, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2023

Mercedes expect more gains from W14 despite ‘almost stopping’ development

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In the round-up: Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes they can make significant gains with their W14 without bringing significant upgrades for it.

In brief

Mercedes can do more to “optimise” 2023 car without upgrades

Wolff says that development on their 2023 car has “almost stopped” but that does not meant they will not be able to find more pace from the car.

“I find it good because there’s so much we can optimise on the current car without looking too much onto upgrades,” Wolff said in a video produced by the team. “Let’s see how we can really get it into more of a sweet spot whilst gaining lots of understanding for next year.

“I think the main areas of improvement is just to give the drivers a more reliable car. It’s not about absolute amount of downforce, but it’s just for them to know that the car is going to be stable when they turn into the corner, which isn’t the case at the moment.”

Green concerns affecting F1 in Germany – Hulkenberg

Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg has suggested the perception of the automotive industry in Germany may contribute to the reduced popularity of F1 in his home country.

Germany has not held an F1 race since 2020. Viewing figures are also down compared to growth seen in other nations in recent years.

“I think it’s a few things,” Hulkenberg said when asked why he felt F1 had lost popularity in Germany. “Obviously Germany was always spoilt in racing with Michael [Schumacher] then with Sebastian [Vettel], [Nico] Rosberg, Mercedes – we’ve always had a very strong presence in Formula 1, at least in the last 30 years or so.

“Naturally I think sometimes the sport is more popular and in higher demand and then probably it tails off sometimes. But then also I think in Germany to the perception of, in general, the automotive industry – it’s like responsible for climate change, it’s not sustainable. And I think that rubs off onto motorsport and that’s why I think there’s a perception and what politics tell the people is that this is bad and somehow that has a negative impact on racing in Formula 1.”

Alfa Romeo missed target of seventh before break – Pujolar

Alfa Romeo’s head of trackside engineering, Xevi Pujolar, admitted the team had missed its target to be sitting in seventh place in the constructors’ championship by the summer break.

“Everything is very, very tight in the midfield and we just need to keep working hard and developing,” Pujolar told media including RaceFans. “We’ll see what our direct competitors can bring after the shut down, but we have some upgrades in the pipeline.

“The main target for us, we wanted to be in P7 before the shutdown, but we’re still within these two points, so everything can change very quickly in the next couple of races again. For us, the main thing is that we don’t increase that gap to P7 and also in terms of pace and performance to be there with our direct competitors.”

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Comment of the day

Despite just seven points separating the Ferrari team mates in the championship, @slowmo is not overly impressed with Carlos Sainz Jnr’s performances at Ferrari…

I think Sainz gets a lot of unfair criticism sometimes but in fairness he really hasn’t pushed on when he’s had opportunities at Ferrari. He was very consistent in his last year at McLaren and seemed a safe pair of hands but at Ferrari he’s performed below par too often and not really been able to string together a strong series of races that I can recall.

Leclerc as been marginally better than Sainz particularly from the perspective of seemingly outperforming his car on occasions but ultimately he still seems very error prone and it’s not like he’s just a young rookie anymore.

Unfortunately for both drivers, Ferrari are pretty woeful and have made far too many mistakes again which almost gives both drivers a free pass. I can’t see any compelling reason to replace either driver until the team fix their issues. On balance I thought Leclerc has hit the higher highs so far but he’s still had some disappointing lows along the way.

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Will Wood
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11 comments on “Mercedes expect more gains from W14 despite ‘almost stopping’ development”

  1. Nice insight video by FIA.

  2. RandomMallard
    8th August 2023, 10:15

    Re Germany:

    Viewing figures are also down compared to growth seen in other nations in recent years.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this was more due to the increasingly restrictive pay TV deals signed over the last few years than directly from the green image.

    1. Probably, German RTL was one of the last big free to air broadcasters. Even if that meant the broadcast was filled to the brim with ad breaks.

  3. I hear Mercedes lobbying for drs ban during quali? Notwithstanding I do not like drs at all this is again them focusing on winning off-track. They should focus on themselves getting faster.

    1. Because, of course, none of the other teams lobby the FIA for rules which would work in their favour…

      1. Of course, didnt mean to say its exusively them. My worry is that they tend to be more outwards focussed which seem to cost them focus on improving themselves. And towards the competitors they seem to be more effective in their lobby which puts them in the spotlight. There is a fishy relation between them and FIA imho. Bit like what Ferrari had for many years in the past. Remember 2021 pit stop change, wings, tire change.. Then the porpoising stuff later.. All while their own performance was going more and more backwards.

        1. Any team that didn’t do both are fools

    2. That will Ferrari not like now they use the same technic for the drs as Red Bull. But i don’t think it will help at all Red Bull stays still fast. Max starts fourth and still wins because in the race he can still use DRS.

      1. I agree that focus on Saturdays doesn’t deliver points. Maybe they aim for some positive PR if they get to the front row, but again that is focus on the wrong thing.

  4. Coventry Climax
    8th August 2023, 12:15

    So Mercedes have basically had an interlude year, needed to learn about their car.
    But it still doesn’t feel like they’re really on top of what caused the zero pod design to fail, or what really causes their car to bounce. Then Toto admits their car is an unpredictable, unstable platform when the drivers turn in for corners. Trying to find a sweet spot to improve that just does not sound like ‘we know exactly why that happens and know exactly what to do about it’.
    So, I’m not sure they’ll succeed in bringing the winning car for next year, even if they start working on it now.
    What I am sure of though, is that if they don’t succeed, they’ll go the Trump way again: If we can’t win, the rules must be all wrong.

  5. All they have to do is go back to their W11, which was faster, or as fast in a straight line and incorporate what they have learned since. Their chassis for the last two years (those ridiculous manifolds breaking rear of the halo) has been spoiling the rear wing, which then requires more drag to effectively get the same downforce performance. Its obvious, so obvious, even when teams like McLaren adapt a more RBR/Ferrari faster flowing (under the rear wing) chassis, what can be gained. I think RBR also gains from it’s rake angle, maybe even at places like Spa where Merc have issues with ‘bouncing’. Remember, cars want to go down, so while you want very low pressure below the floor, you also want low pressure under the ‘wing’ surfaces, in order to affect greater degrees of pressure differential/downforce.

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