The ‘serious amount of money’ behind Mercedes’ W14 upgrade plans

Thomas Maher
Lewis Hamilton drives upgraded Mercedes W14. Belgium, July 2023.

Lewis Hamilton drives the upgraded Mercedes W14 at Spa-Francorchamps. Belgium, July 2023.

It doesn’t yet make sense for Mercedes to back off in the fight for position in the 2023 Constructors’ Championship…

With Mercedes locked in battle with Ferrari, Aston Martin, and recently, McLaren, over the position of the second-quickest team in Formula 1, there are still 10 races left in which to earn their final position in the table.

As it stands, Mercedes are second with 247 points – 51 points clear of Aston Martin, and a further five points clear of Ferrari. But with the speed of each team varying from race to race, there’s no sense in backing off to concentrate on 2024 just yet.

Millions in prize money up for grabs

While the temptation would be to park the development of the W14 in order to get the maximum amount of time possible to focus on the W15 being a stronger competitor, similar to what Red Bull are doing as they begin to switch their attention to 2024, the prize of second place is too important to give up on.

That’s according to 2015 Le Mans winner Richard Bradley, who told the OTGP podcast that the difference in prize money awarded to the second-place finisher versus the team down in fourth is significant – even for an operation watching its spending under the budget cap.

“I think for Mercedes, there’ll be a lot of benefits for them because they’re in a serious fight for those Constructors’ Championship points and those positions,” Bradley said.

“P1 for the Drivers’ Championship and for the Constructors’ is pretty much a done deal. So, for Red Bull, it would make sense if they start to shift their focus because they’re in a league of their own at the minute.

“But, for Mercedes, there’s a very real chance that they could finish second, but there’s also a very real chance that they could finish fourth as well.

“Just to put that into perspective – I don’t know the exact numbers because it changes every year – that’s probably a difference of about 10 to $15 million in prize money.

“Which is a serious, serious amount of money. So, for Mercedes, there are definitely gains to be had by continuing to develop this year’s cars. But Red Bull, it makes no sense, to be honest.”

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Are further upgrades on the way for Mercedes?

While team boss Toto Wolff has said that the planned upgrades are all but ceased for 2023 after an aggressive push mid-season as Mercedes pursued a concept change, there are still some changes to the W14 still to come.

George Russell has said some “small bits” are planned during the second half of the year, while chief technical officer Mike Elliott spoke about the changes to the sidepods made in Belgium affter showing up with a first iteration in Monaco.

“I think with what we’ve done now, we’ve clearly not jumped completely to where they are or to where anybody else is,” Elliott told media including PlanetF1.com.

“What we’ve tried to do is to take what we’ve got and adapt it.

“Therefore, you don’t sort of take the same hit. And hopefully, with time it evolves and we’ll end up in a better place.

“I think when we brought the first version, it was pretty much a level change. It wasn’t something that brought lots of extra performance but there were opportunities to look at something different. We’ve sort of moved forward.

“We’re always evolving, constantly trying to bring more performance. So, this is a little bit more. The next version will bring us a little bit more and hopefully, we’ll keep developing over the winter.”

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