Toto Wolff explains Mercedes’ return to black livery for W14

Toby Miles
George Russell, Toto Wolff, Lewis Hamilton and Mick Schumacher launch the Mercedes W14. February 2023.

Mercedes-AMG F1 W14 E Performance Launch - Finn Pomeroy

Mercedes are back in black, revealing the W14 with a design that harks back to their fearsome 2020 and ’21 cars, but as Toto Wolff has explained, history wasn’t the only inspiration.

The Silver Arrows rocked up at Silverstone to reveal their 2023 car before heading out on track for a shakedown at the iconic British GP track. Theirs was the penultimate car to be revealed ahead of pre-season testing in Bahrain on February 23, leaving only Alpine to go.

Mercedes returned to their familiar silver livery in 2022, having fielded a Black Lives Matter-inspired design on their all-conquering W11 and the W12, which won the Constructors’ Championship and fell so narrowly short of the Drivers’ title in 2021.

However, silver only dropped the German team to bronze. Third in the Constructors’ standings behind a dominant Red Bull and faster Ferrari, earning just one victory, made for Mercedes’ worst season since Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg were piloting their cars in 2012.

The German team teased fans with images of three paint pots in Petronas green, INEOS red and the manufacturer’s famous silver – contradicting earlier posts that teased the W14 in black and white. In the end they followed a grid-wide trend of introducing more black onto their car, adding the green and red accents of their chief sponsors and partners to the menacing design.

Joined by Lewis Hamilton, George Russell and reserve driver Mick Schumacher at Silverstone, Wolff admitted he is a fan of the black livery and explained that there were several reasons for reverting to it.

“We were overweight last year. This year we have tried to figure out where we can have some raw carbon bits, along with some that are painted matte black,” Wolff said at the Silverstone launch.

“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.

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“The colour black became part of our DNA at that point, so we are pleased to return to it.”

As the teams battle to reduce weight, each of the nine cars revealed so far has come with more exposed carbon; from Haas’ VF-23 to the Ferrari SF-23 released on Tuesday.

Mercedes are no strangers to weight battles and Wolff, who appeared to be in good spirits as he joked with Russell, Hamilton and Schumacher, looked back to a race at the Nurburgring in 1934 that went down in Mercedes folklore.

“When you look at where the story of the Silver Arrows came from,” the Austrian team principal added, “the Mercedes race car was put on track, it was white and overweight, which is a little bit of our story last year.

“They scratched off the paint and ended up with bare aluminium, and the car made the weight.

“So we came back and we really tried to get the weight off the car. Therefore from the paint side we committed to losing the grams by leaving the car matte carbon and history repeats itself, just in this case it’s carbon and not aluminium.”