Gary Anderson on what to expect from Mercedes’ Imola upgrades

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Former F1 designer Gary Anderson gives his analysis of what to expect from Mercedes’ big W14 upgrades, and their change of development direction.

After the first race of the 2023 season, Mercedes decided to head in a different development direction with their car.

The first steps of this new direction will be unveiled next weekend at Imola, and the team already promised the W14 will receive new suspension parts and bodywork, among other things.

In his The Race column, former F1 designer Gary Anderson, who worked for Jordan, Stewart and Jaguar F1 teams, gave his analysis of what to expect from Mercedes’ W14 upgrades.

“Mercedes’ new avenue of development wasn’t just started after the Bahrain race weekend,” Anderson wrote.

“Yes, it was after qualifying that Wolff called for the change of direction, but it was in the works well before that.

“The need to improve the mechanical platform has been stressed. Certainly, Mercedes wants to be able to run the car lower like the Red Bull, but the question is whether it can actually have the control to do that.

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“Mercedes can’t do much about the rear suspension geometry as the gearbox design is homologated for the season under the current rules, and currently, there has been no talk of a change in that area. That might be something for 2024.

“But the interesting, or should I say concerning part, is those at Mercedes keep stressing they are puzzled by things.

“They seem to get sucked in too easily by the odd good day when the car performs well, but that is what happens with a car when the problem is the consistency of performance.”

Anderson then went on to analyse Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff’s words regarding the upgrades. Among other statements, Wolff said that “the car should be moving forward immediately”.

“’Immediately’ is a big word, it takes time to optimise the car after introducing developments,” Anderson wrote.

“What Mercedes has shown both last season and this season is that the ability to simulate the performance of the base car and add to that any changes in the characteristics of the aerodynamic platform doesn’t always relate to what happens at the track.

“So maximum track running at Imola will be critical.”

Later in the same interview, Wolff said that Mercedes is “not trying to find the magic bullet that will turn this around and we’re all happy”, but again reiterated that “there is performance available immediately“.

“‘There is performance available immediately’, where have I heard that before?” Anderson continued.

“That needs to be proven over a few weekends at different tracks. Progress is not like a light switch, it’s more of a dimmer switch that gets brighter every time you run the car.

“Mercedes is clearly confident in this change of direction, but let’s see what Imola, Monaco and Barcelona bring before we can draw any conclusions about the step that has been made. After all, Mercedes has been confident before and caught out.

“Given the struggles of the past 15 months, the priority is to show that the tools being used to drive the development decision-making are now up to the task of getting the right direction for these ground effect cars,” Anderson concluded.

You can read the rest of Anderson’s analysis here.

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