Mercedes giving ‘big idea one last go’ with ‘Plan B’ car now in reserve

Mark Scott
Mercedes W14 shaken down at Silverstone. February 2023

All-black Mercedes W14 shaken down at Silverstone. February 2023

Mercedes have reportedly got a ‘Plan B’ car in reserve for the F1 2023 season should they decide to scrap their zero-pod design philosophy.

The Silver Arrows suffered their first trophy-less season since 2013 having finished third behind World Champions Red Bull and second-placed Ferrari in what was a very tough F1 2022 campaign for F1’s once dominant force.

It was expected that the new regulations ahead of the F1 2022 season would be quite restrictive, but the W13 was living proof that there was still scope for creativity with its radical zero-pod design.

But ultimately this design path did not lead Mercedes back down the road to World Championship glory, although it has to be said that it was their fierce battle trying to overcome porpoising issues that predominantly held Lewis Hamilton and George Russell back on track.

With that in mind, Mercedes are planning to stick to their zero-pod design in the hope that there is some true potential to unlock, should the team get on top of their porpoising issues once and for all.

If they can’t, then Sky Sports F1 reporter Ted Kravitz believes a ‘Plan B’ car which has a development path more in line with Red Bull and Ferrari is waiting in the wings to be introduced during the F1 2023 season.

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“They’re giving their big idea, that was a failure last year, one more go,” Kravitz told Sky F1 colleague Craig Slater.

“But I believe they have a ‘Plan B’ in production, and if they need to, they can go to a ‘Plan B’, which is the Red Bull or Ferrari style of doing things, in the middle of the season.

“At the moment they’re saying, look, we think we’ve got a proper handle on what went wrong last year. We still believe that our way is unique in the pit lane and having very slim sideboards is the way to go aerodynamically.

“And anyway, they say most of the downforce is generated by the floor, which you can’t see, but they’re saying don’t expect anything too soon.

“I think if they went away without three or four wins in a season, they’d be disappointed.”

Asked why Mercedes aren’t in a position to fix things now, Kravitz replied: “My reading of that was we’ve [Mercedes] have got more things coming online. We’ve got developments of the European season and we think they’re going to work, but maybe the figures are very wrong eventually.”