W14 – Back To Black In The Name Of Performance

New solutions to the learnings from last year’s W13 car

The unveiling of the 2023 F1 machines continues with the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team presenting its W14 E PERFORMANCE racing car today. Silver and black being the colours of the team, the decision was made to go with black this year ‘in the name of performance’. While taking inspiration from the legendary creation of the original Silver Arrows, instead of stripping back paint to shiny aluminium beneath, it will be sleek black carbonfibre on the W14.

“You will see that the car has some raw carbon bits, along with some that are painted matte black. Of course, when we changed the livery in 2020, the main driving factor was to support the diversity and equality causes which are always close to our heart. The colour black became part of our DNA at that point, so we are pleased to return to it,” said Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO of the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team.

The historical links don’t end there, however, with the black livery also echoing the 1993 Sauber C12. That car utilized ‘Concept by Mercedes’ power and signalled the 3-pointed star’s return to the pinnacle of motorsport for the first time since 1955.

Commenting on the looks of the car he will drive this year, Lewis Hamilton said, “To see the evolution of the car and the changes that have been made is fascinating. We’ve redesigned, optimized, and innovated so many parts of the car and that is impressive. And I love the new livery! It says, ‘we mean business’!”. George Russell added: “Aesthetically, it looks great! It’s bold, aggressive and stands out.”

The car’s new look isn’t limited to the architecture, either. The iconic black livery from 2020 and 2021 has been refined as part of a significant project to reduce overall weight. The underlying concept of the W13 has been retained and development focused on core performance areas. That has led to a car that retains the distinctive DNA of its predecessor and introduces a combination of notable changes that are visible on first inspection – such as the gulley bodywork on the engine cover – and others beneath the surface.

Areas targeted include reducing overall weight, giving the drivers a more consistent car balance across the speed range, and better matching the aerodynamic characteristics to the demands of the aero regulations. This is borne out in areas such as a significantly lighter chassis, revised front suspension geometry, cooling system adjustments and a refined aerodynamic concept based on last year’s learning.

With the Power Unit hardware freeze in effect, focus has shifted to two key areas: reliability and software. “We’ve got the final performance software freeze of this regulation cycle ahead of the start of the season so that’s been a lot of work. We have found the most performance recently through the way we use the engine and that means software upgrades. Knowing that it is the final opportunity for development has ensured it’s been a real push to pack in as much work as possible,” said Hywel Thomas, Managing Director of Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains.

The challenges presented by the W13 weren’t limited to the chassis, either. The effect of the bouncing on the Power Unit was of concern, and reliability fixes have been implemented. “By the end of the season, the engines were battered and bruised,” Hywel continued. “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.”

Reliability, correlation, and learning will be the focus when it comes to pre-season testing in Bahrain. With just 3 days of running before the first race weekend of the season, an efficient and successful test is imperative. “The chassis side have got an enormous amount of work that they want to complete to learn. We’ve got to learn as much as we can, to work out how to get the most performance out of the car and what we can learn to feed into the next developments,” said Hywel.