Mercedes F1 car "annoyingly dead" in the middle of corners

Mercedes has revealed its drivers have been battling an "annoyingly dead" Formula 1 car in the middle of corners this year as a consequence of its ongoing balance problems.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

With the German manufacturer having realised it has taken the wrong approach with its 2023 car, having been too cautious with its ride height target, the team has been chasing solutions to get it closer to the front of the grid. 

And while more downforce would not go amiss, its technical director James Allison has said a particular effort has been thrown at trying to improve the handling and balance of the W14. 

He said that the through-corner characteristic of its current challenger are far from ideal in providing its drivers with the confidence they need. 

"Bread and butter downforce is always a good thing," he told the Mercedes website about improvements being planned. 

"We are also trying to make the car more reassuring for the drivers when they initially turn in. It feels too reactive.  

"And then when they get to the apex they have the opposite problem, where we want it to bite at the front and it doesn't. It's unstable when you first turn the wheel and then annoyingly dead when they get to the apex. We want it the other way around. That's what we are working on." 

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believed that a lot of potential could be opened up if the team was successful in providing a car that Lewis Hamilton and George Russell felt more comfortable with.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images

"We need to give the drivers a more reliable car and platform when it comes to the balance and feeling," he said. 

“It's not about absolute downforce but it's for them to know that the car is going to be stable when they turn into the corner. That isn't the case for now.  

"It is a big focus for us, as it will give the drivers more confidence and with that will come more performance."

Mercedes is starting to shift more and more of its resources towards its 2024 car, but Allison thinks that any improvements it finds back at the factory can still be applied to the current challenger. 

"At this stage of the year the wind tunnel is heavily focused on 2024," he said.

"Large chunks of the drawing office, vehicle dynamics, manufacturing for long-lead time production items are starting to gather their skirts. From the summer break onwards, next year's car is where the largest call is answered. But that also gives opportunities for the W14 too." 

While the ultimate target remains getting itself back in world championship contention, Allison has said ending the year as runner-up to Red Bull is something it is eager to achieve.

"At the start of the year we were fourth quickest, looking at our customers who were beating us, and that was frustrating," he said. "Ferrari were beating us too.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

"Little by little we are gradually putting them behind us. Everything is playing a part in it. From strategy to engineering, reliability, manufacturing and the drivers who are metronomic in their ability to turn half-opportunities into points.  

"Although it falls short of our initial aims, securing P2 nevertheless really matters for all of us. Especially in the second half of the season when the tone will be shifting to the W15."

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