Mercedes confident they have eliminated W13 problems for 2023 car

Sam Cooper
George Russell navigates COTA in the Mercedes W13. October 2022

Mercedes driver George Russell navigates COTA. October 2022

After a year of problems, Mercedes believe they know enough about the disadvantages of the W13 to make sure they do not carry any of them over to the W14.

Having spent so many years at the top of the sport, the 2022 season of Mercedes will remain one of the most shocking Formula 1 moments in recent memory.

The team suddenly went from a near-unbeatable juggernaut to a wounded giant and the days of fighting for wins and Championships seemed long gone.

The battle to return their car to the front of the grid was one that lasted all season with the W13’s solitary victory coming in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

With the season now over, work has begun on preparing the troublesome car’s successor but given 2022 saw a massive regulation change, questions are rightly being asked about how competitive fans can expect the W14 to be.

Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin believes that the knowledge they gained from the 2022 season has put them in good stead to ensure the same problems do not feature in the 2023 car.

“It’s fair to say that by the time you’ve got to the end of the season, you’ve raced across a whole range of circuits, you should have pretty much understood all the issues certainly by the end of the year,” he said.

“Whilst we still had some problems with the car that were making us less competitive at some tracks, those were not new problems. Those were problems that we could anticipate and that had been there for quite a while now.

“The big body of work that’s been going on for the last number of months has been to make sure that those issues on the W13 don’t get carried into the W14 and we’ve made good progress there.

“Now you can see that in some of the later updates, particularly the update that we brought to Austin, they just put us that bit closer to the front so a lot of our focus was making sure we can develop an update kit and bring it to the track and actually see it translate to performance.

“Hopefully the culmination of that work will mean that we can get an altogether more competitive package together for next year.”

Mercedes’ boss Toto Wolff has often suggested the problems with the W13 has set the team back in terms of development and Shovlin hinted at something similar, saying that they had been focused on the “learning side” rather than development.

“It’s a funny time of year because you don’t know what kind of work your competitors are doing, how well they’re progressing but we’ve been very focused on the learning side, trying to iron out those issues that we’ve had with the W13.

“After the year that we’ve had, we’re never going to go into it saying that we think we’ll be fighting back at the front but we are very, very determined to get back to getting the car on pole position and winning races.

“We’re always excited when developing and launching a new car. It’s a good time of year. Lots of work, lots of interests, lots of excitement but it’s going to be tough and we’re ready for a fight.”

Mercedes are entering the 2023 season with arguably their highest ever level of motivation believing that they have to once again prove themselves and team strategy director James Vowles said he can feel that around the factory.

“I think just looking around the factory, you can just see everyone is incredibly motivated by by what happened last year and more importantly by wanting to get back onto that top step and consistently showing the world and other teams that we know how to win,” he explained.

“We want to be back there and we have an opportunity to get back there across the winter.

“You have a number of teams that are doing what we’re doing, which is every single day scraping for a minute, a millisecond or more. But the reality is that we’re in a strong position here in terms of learning that we can build on from last year and everything I see around is just everyone wanting to win and doing everything they can across the winter to do so.”

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