Mercedes have found ‘about three-tenths per lap’ through 2kg weight loss with the W14

Michelle Foster
High-front shot Mercedes W14.

High-front view of the Mercedes W14 challenger.

Mercedes’ W14 will start the new season approximately 2kgs lighter than its predecessor, which could be worth as much as “about three-tenths per lap” reports Corriere dello Sport.

Mercedes took the covers off their 2023 challenger on Wednesday, the car out on track later in the day for its debut run.

Sticking with last year’s zero-pod concept, the new 2023 car has returned to the black livery of 2020 and ’21.

That, the team has explained, is in part to drop some weight.

With Mercedes one of the teams struggling to reach the minimum weight last season with the all-new ground effect aerodynamic cars, this year the team has opted to strip it back to its carbon fibre.

The lack of paint coupled with lighter parts could be worth as much as “three-tenths” for the team.

Corriere dello Sport reports, ‘weight was the previous car’s enemy number two, after the bounce.’

‘The frame, as well as some important internal components have been revised and lightened. Qualified sources speak of a significant reduction which would affect about three-tenths per lap.

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Toto Wolff explained the thinking about the carbon look.

“We are on the weight limit of what we wanted to achieve,” the Mercedes motorsport boss told the media including, “and obviously when we looked at all the weight savings, everybody needed to make a commitment.

“It is really a performance issue.

“But then there is not tonnes of ways you can save on the paint but it shows the intent of what we do and the narrative is just right, not only because of the historical context of how the Silver Arrows were created but also because of our attempt in painting the car back two years ago is still very valid.

“So it all kind of made sense.”

But wait, there’s more!

The Italian publication also claims Mercedes’ engine gains, reported over the winter to be about 16hp, could be worth a further two-tenths per lap for the Brackley squad and their customers.

Mercedes struggled to match Red Bull for top speed last season, down on average eight to 12 km/h depending on the layout of the circuit.

However, having made a few reliability fixes over the break, they have reportedly found some 16hp extra.

That could translate to two-tenths of a second per lap.

Corriere reports that while some of Mercedes’ deficit to Red Bull was because of drag, the rest was down to the engine.

But, ‘a major software update declared by the chief engine engineer Hywel Thomas, with the objective of maintaining the excellent reliability shown in 2022’ has gone some way towards eradicating the deficit.

‘From what has been learned, the estimated gain seems to be able to guarantee two tenths of an improvement.’

Good gains from Mercedes, but everyone has found something

While the Mercedes W14 could be half a second faster than its predecessor, that based on Corriere’s numbers, it’s safe to say the Red Bull RB19 will be quicker than the 18 and the Ferrari has also found additional pace.

It’s a story as old as time in Formula 1, a team makes gains but so too do the rest of the rests.

The only question really is who’s made the biggest and that won’t be known until Bahrain, the race, not the test.

With this year’s championship marking the second season of the new ground effect aerodynamic regulations it is fair to say all the teams will make gains, and probably big ones too.

It’s only as the years go by that those at the front have less to find, while those closer to the back have more. That’s why in 2021 Formula 1 had eight cars on the podium, the field finally closed up.

Here’s hoping the steps the sport has taken, the budget cap, the ATR scale, Red Bull’s penalty, means we won’t have to wait eight years into the new regulations for another humdinger.