Mercedes became the latest team to uncover their 2023 challenger as they debuted an all-black W14 at Silverstone earlier today.
Unpainted carbon fibre is a feature of many cars this season as teams do everything they can to cut weight. Mercedes ran black painted cars in 2020 and 2021 to show their support for diversity and equality, but this time the more functional reasoning for the choice does harken back to when they acquired the “Silver Arrows” nickname.
“When you look at where the story of the Silver Arrows came from,” CEO & Team Principal, Toto Wolff said, “it’s that the Mercedes was put on track – the race car it was white, overweight, a little bit of our story last year – and they scratched off the paint, and it ended up with bare aluminium, and the car made the weight.
“So we came back, we really tried to get the weight off the car in every single bit and therefore on the paint side we committed in gaining the grams by leaving the car matte carbon, and history repeats itself. Just in this case it’s a modern material, carbon, and not aluminium, and it’s black.”
Mercedes had a difficult time last season, by their standards anyway with only a single win and sixteen podiums, after their take on the new regulations didn’t pan out on track as their calculations had predicted. Despite that they’ve continued developing and evolving that concept rather than starting from scratch.
“Last year, once we had figured out what we needed to do, it took a huge amount of work to get ourselves moving forward,” Technical Director, Mike Elliott, explained. “Towards the end of the season, you could see the performance improving and the winter has been a reset.
“We have done all the things that we wanted to do with the W13 last year but weren’t able to because of resource constraints or because our focus was elsewhere fixing other issues. We never really got on top of the car balance last year. All the normal work we do at the beginning of the season didn’t happen because of the problems we were trying to rectify.”
As well as having an effect on the performance and the drivers, porpoising also had quite an impact on the power units, so that was something that had to be looked at over the break.
“By the end of the season, the engines were battered and bruised,” Hywel Thomas, Managing Director of Mercedes High Performance Powertrains said. “We have looked at the design changes made on the chassis, along with those on the engine, and done the work as a team. The biggest changes on the Power Unit this year are the reliability items to make ourselves more robust if we find the car hitting the ground.”
Mercedes will run with the same driver pairing as last season – seven-time champion, Lewis Hamilton, alongside 2022 Sao Paulo race winner, George Russell. And the two will get their first laps in the W14 at a shakedown around Silverstone today.
“I have been a part of this team for over a decade and the efforts of everyone never cease to amaze me,” Hamilton said. “I find it inspiring how diligently and passionately each person approaches their work.
“To see the evolution of the car and the changes that have been made is fascinating. We’ve redesigned, optimised, and innovated so many parts of the car and that is impressive. And I love the new livery! It says, ‘we mean business’. I’m excited to go racing again. I feel calm, energised, and have my focus sharpened. I’m ready to do what’s necessary to win.”
Russell echoed his teammate’s praise for the work Mercedes team members put in and is excited to see how the W14 performs.
“I have been incredibly impressed with how the Team developed the car throughout last season,” Russell added. “We have been building momentum throughout 2022 and we’re excited to see how that has progressed over the winter.
“Aesthetically [the car] looks great! It’s bold, aggressive and stands out. It’s been a long winter and there’s plenty of anticipation to see if the W14 lives up to our expectations. I’m excited and, while there’s a lot of talk at this point in the season, we now need to see how we perform when the car takes to the track.”
With last year’s reserve drivers, Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne, both finding new homes for 2023 – de Vries as an AlphaTauri driver while Vandoorne will be reserve for Aston Martin as well as being reserve for Peugeot in WEC and driving for DS Penske in Formula E where he’s the reigning champion – so to replace them, Mercedes have brought Mick Schumacher in after the young German wasn’t re-signed after two years at Haas.
“I’ve always felt very close to Mercedes,” Schumacher said. “I am very happy to be a part of the Team and I know how important my role will be in aiding the development of the W14. I am committed to giving it my all to contribute to our performance in this competitive environment.”