After huge upgrades at the Monaco Grand Prix, Mercedes’ further development of the W14. But, while this may be the case, their new front suspension holds more secrets than just an improvement in stability and improved airflow.
Both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have expressed unease regarding the stability of the W14’s rear end, with the main culprit being the forward-shifted cockpit position. This issue, however, is something that only a fresh chassis in the coming year can address. Due to the sport’s cost cap, no further “big moves” for improvement can be made this season.
In a bid to tackle this, Mercedes played a significant card – introducing an updated front suspension. This was a major part of their ‘B-spec’ upgrade unveiled in Monaco. While the alteration was clearly visible, it didn’t translate into performance improvement until the Spanish Grand Prix.
What’s the reason behind the new suspension? Well, it’s not only about enhancing airflow and stability. According to Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Engineering Director, the tweaked suspension also offers a broader performance scope.
“It is important to play with the geometry and change the airflow, with which we can try to get more stability in the car. It also immediately gives us more freedom,” Shovlin explained.
“We always struggled to balance having both a robust front at the apex and stability when braking and turning in. We constantly had a weak rear on the turn in or a weak rear in the middle of the corner. Hopefully, we have found the right direction with the updates.”
However, Mercedes isn’t playing with a free hand. With the budget cap barring a new chassis, the Brackley team has to work with the original W14 chassis. Shovlin acknowledges that the suspension, especially at the back, will take centre stage heading into 2024.
“We essentially built a new suspension this year. But suspensions don’t come cheap. Considering the budget cap, we always keep an eye on the championship standings,” Shovlin noted.
“We are unsure about how much more we can do, but I don’t foresee any major leaps. But we do understand that we can kickstart numerous development projects from this point. We’ve already put those plans into action.”
Every team on the grid is assessing their growth within the cost cap’s boundaries. But for Mercedes, needing to veer significantly off their original concept, it’s an expensive endeavour to undertake in one season. Consequently, Shovlin and his squad are formulating an upgrade program to maximize the car’s current state.
“The biggest challenge will always be merging the aerodynamics and the dynamics of the car, and further optimizing them. We need to spot where opportunities still lie and align them with the car to create one cohesive unit.”