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The New Black Mercedes W14 Has Made Some Surprising Choices

Mercedes have revealed their W14 challenger, but some of their choices have left some confused....

Mercedes have unveiled their 2023 challenger and what has surprised people is the return to a black livery and a seeming lack of fundamental change in the core design. The only question everyone is asking on both counts is “why?” 

The livery has returned to black but not for the same reasons as last time. The iconic Silver Arrows went black in solidarity with the Black community after the death of George Floyd. This time it isn’t political, it’s actually very practical. 

Keeping the W13 underweight was a difficult challenge that Mercedes struggled to overcome. One of the easiest ways to shed weight is to not paint the car. It might only count for a few grams, but every little bit counts. Hence the exposed carbon fibre. 

All images credited to Mercedes

As team principal, Toto Wolff, explained, “We were overweight last year, and this year we have tried to figure out where we can squeeze out every single gram. So no history repeats itself. You will see that the car has some raw carbon bits along with some that are painted matte black.

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

In terms of the design, there has been nothing radical. If you compare it to Ferrari’s SF-23, you can see that Ferrari took their design to further extremes. Mercedes had no such luxury. The W13 struggled from the get-go without the strong base that Ferrari had. It was difficult to extract performance from the W13 and it was sometimes difficult to predict when that performance would show up. 

So while there are differences between the W14 and W13, they are not concepts taken to the extreme, rather they are correctives to a troublesome concept. This is also why Mercedes have had to stick with their “zero pod” concept. If they had abandoned it, they would’ve had to start all over with a new concept completely cancelling out any work they had done in 2022. 

Even this evaluation must be taken with a grain of salt because all we can do is speculate from the outside. We don’t know what’s going on internally at all, and so perhaps they found that their core concept was solid but needed a little finessing. 

It’s certainly what technical director, Mike Elliot, suggested as he told the media that the team had considered going in a different direction, but after extensive analysis, they found “a lot of goodness” in the car. The good ideas stayed, and the team worked around them, redeveloping the front and rear suspension and such. 

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