TECHNICAL ANALYSIS: Mercedes sticks to its guns in unique sidepod design with new W14

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Mercedes is aiming to bounce again from a troublesome season with the brand new W14, however a take a look at the launch automobiles exhibits that Silver Arrows continues with the idea of this automobile’s unique-looking predecessor. Why F1 technical skilled Mark Hughes…

With their new F1 W14, Mercedes hopes they’ve taken the nice components of final 12 months’s problematic W13, specifically superb high-speed downforce, however eradicated the bouncing and pitching that restricted its potential a lot and made it a really tough journey.

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The W14 retains lots of the extremely particular person particulars of the earlier automobile, comparable to slim vertical intakes for the radiators, huge open flooring area and using an open prime ‘fog bar’ (facet impression bar) to direct airflow downward. on prime of the sidepods.

The decrease sidepod contours, nevertheless, have been flattened in profile, thickened ahead and elongated rearward. The sidepods not merge vaguely with the bonnet, however are as a substitute separated by a excessive cooling ball that carries air from the radiators and expels it behind both facet of the exhaust.

This lowered the necessity for big cooling louvers on the prime of the sidepod (although there’s in all probability the choice so as to add louvers on the market for warmer races).

W14 (above) and W13 (under) had been in contrast. The ‘zero’ sidepod is barely enlarged, elongated on the rear and has smoother downward contours on the entrance. The cooling path of spent radiator air is kind of completely different, with the ‘prime’ part of the cowling between the sidepod and the bonnet now emanating from both facet of the central exhausts, and a lesser sidepod higher grille.

Coach Mike Elliott admitted: “There have been occasions final 12 months after we questioned ourselves and requested if we made an enormous mistake, do we have to essentially change what we had been doing? However you understand that if you happen to tear all of it up and begin over, you may begin far behind the place you had been.

“It is higher to take the automobile you’ve got and construct on it. Though we had loads of issues with the automobile final 12 months, there have been some superb issues with the automobile, in addition to issues it did effectively. It’s a must to watch out to not throw these issues away by beginning over.”

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Workforce principal Toto Wolff underlined these issues: “We have analyzed it forwards and backwards, and as you may see, sidepods are nonetheless very completely different from every other automobile. We imagine it isn’t the efficiency half. Frankly, there isn’t a such factor as a holy cow.

“We’re every part. These are the primary iterations of the sidepods and after just a few races they’ll in all probability change fairly a bit. However as Mike mentioned, if you happen to change an idea, you may take three steps again and two steps ahead. The truth that we keep courageous and proceed to observe what the science tells us. I really like.


Entrance nook of W14 (L) and W13 (R) sidepods in contrast. The uncovered higher facet impression beam is used, as earlier than, to direct the airflow all the way down to the uncovered flooring, which accelerates the airflow and aids downforce by giving it additional vitality because it travels in the direction of the rear of the automobile.

As such, there was no transition to the extra traditional Crimson Bull physique geometry that the majority groups at the moment observe – nor that of Ferrari.

As a substitute, Mercedes has opted for an aerodynamic evolution of its preliminary response to floor impact laws, which can nearly actually require a sophisticated underfloor design.

However there are vital mechanical modifications that the staff hopes will get them out of the nook they entered with final 12 months’s automobile.

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An important of those – an all-new rear suspension (though it nonetheless has a towbar) – wasn’t actually on show at launch earlier than the automobile was taken to Silverstone for a shakeout. The purpose, nevertheless, was to provide the automobile a larger vary of suspension journey with out requiring super-rigid changes to stabilize the aerial platform, which was a significant a part of the leaping downside.

If Mercedes is appropriate of their evaluation of final 12 months that the limitations to fixing aerodynamic challenges are mechanical, then we will lastly see the true potential of this very completely different aerodynamic idea.


W14 entrance view. The entrance suspension stays pushrod in operation, however the geometry has been fine-tuned and the airflow path by means of it’s cleaner.

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