Mercedes promise “visible changes” to Hamilton and Russell’s car

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell will profit from “radical” and “visible” amendments to their F1 2023 car.
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 and team mate George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir,
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 and team mate George Russell (GBR)…

Even before the first race of the year, team principal Toto Wolff reacted to Hamilton’s criticism of the W14 but admitting the entire concept must be reconsidered immediately.

A planned upgrade for Imola (the sixth race of the year) would not be enough, Wolff said, and now Mercedes have explained how their brave ‘zeropod’ philosophy might change and hinted at a time-frame.

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Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ trackside engineering director, said: “People have tended to use the word concept when they mean the sidepod design. Toto had said recently that we are looking at a revision that is going to come along in the next few races.

“Given the gap to the front of course we are going to look at bigger departures and more radical changes.

“But those changes take time to turn into a faster solution in the wind tunnel. You can’t do them overnight. There is quite a lot of development that you have got to do around any sort of big change in geometry in that area.

“We are looking at where we can improve the car, we are looking for potential to develop and you will see visible changes coming on the car over the next few races.

“That gap in qualifying was quite large, we were over half a second to the front. In the race that was even bigger.

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir, Bahrain,
George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd…

“That was compounded by the fact that when you get the tyre degradation you get a bit more sliding, the tyres run hotter. You end up finding it very difficult to keep them under any kind of control.

“There is a lot that we need to understand but the key things are really getting on top of that long run degradation, which last year was a strong point for us.

“Clearly, we’ve got something that’s not in the right place that we need to work on. 

“But ultimately the other thing is that performance gap to the front. The raw pace of the car is not good enough.

“We are working very hard at the moment to understand what we can do in the short-term future and in the mid-term future to try and get ourselves in a better place.”

Hamilton has previously denied that Mercedes have a 'Plan B' version of the 2023 car, and claimed the F1 cost cap prohibits them from building two different concepts simultaneously.

The W14's skinny sidepods are an obvious distinction from other cars on the 2023 grid - not least Aston Martin, their customer team, who outperformed them at the season-opening F1 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Aston Martin use a Mercedes-powered engine, so Fernando Alonso's overtake of Hamilton and his podium finish was a stark underlining of the problems faced by Wolff's team.

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