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Mercedes: No qualms about throwing away “really fast” W14 F1 car

Mercedes has no qualms about binning its “really fast” W14 Formula 1 car at the end of this year, because it knows better things are coming with its 2024 challenger. 

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

The German manufacturer was in the hunt for victory in Singapore last weekend as a strategy masterstroke gave George Russell and Lewis Hamilton a shot at grabbing the win late on. 

Although it ultimately missed out as Ferrari's Carlos Sainz ended Red Bull's winning streak, the potential shown around the Marina Bay circuit showed that Mercedes has made good progress in improving its 2023 car after a difficult start to the season. 

Twelve months ago, Mercedes was encouraged with the development path of its W13 and, after a victory in Brazil, it felt confident enough to stick with its car concept in to this year – which proved to be a wrong choice. 

But although the W14 is now picking up form, team boss Toto Wolff has said that there is no hesitation in Mercedes moving in a totally different direction for 2024 – especially based on the good feedback that it is getting from its 2024 W15 development. 

“We will throw this one in the bin when it's really fast and then embark on a new journey,” said Wolff. 

“We have encouraging signs from the tunnel of a balanced car that's going to be more together, and we have answers to our questions. So, we are really looking at the results with an encouraging perspective.” 

One of the ongoing issues that Mercedes has faced with the W14 is that it can be quite unpredictable – both in terms of how well it performs each weekend and also in its handling out on track, with Hamilton labelling it the "hardest car that I've ever driven to get right" after qualifying in Singapore

Wolff said that Mercedes still had plenty to learn from it throughout the remainder of the 2023 season, as the team bids to grab at least one win. 

 George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

“This is still for us a little bit of a surprise box,” he said. “Every learning that we have this year is going to be valuable next year – but obviously nobody is working on the current cars anymore.” 

The unpredictability of the W14 is one of the reasons why Wolff suspects that the car gets better throughout each race weekend, because it takes its drivers so long to get comfortable with how it is going to behave.  

Speaking earlier this month about the characteristic, Wolff said: “The car is still so sensitive and difficult to set up that we need more sessions to get on top of it.

“Because you [the drivers] don't know what the car is going to do when you turn in, it's a matter of gaining confidence over those sessions. And the longer we run, the better we get, the more we can fine tune the tools and that helps.” 

Mercedes is set to bring an update package to the United States Grand Prix in a bid to help its push to try to grab a victory this season. 

 

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