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Mercedes planning "radical changes" for 2023 F1 car

Mercedes Formula 1 trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has indicated that the team is looking at "radical changes" for the troubled W14.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Team boss Toto Wolff promised at the car's launch last month that a revised sidepod design was already on the way, one that would the car move away from the 'size-zero' design carried over from last year's W13.

After a disappointing performance in Bahrain, Wolff suggested that the concept of the car wasn't working, and Shovlin has confirmed that the team will have to look beyond changes to the sidepods.

"People have tended to use the word concept when they mean the sidepod design," Shovlin said in Mercedes video.

"And Toto had said recently that we are looking at a revision that is going to come along in the next few races anyway.

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"Given the gap to the front, of course we are going to look at bigger departures and more radical changes.

"But those changes take time to turn into a faster solution in the wind tunnel - you can't do them overnight. There is quite a lot of development that you've got to do around any sort of big change in geometry in that area.

"Of course, we are looking at where we can improve the car, we are looking for potential to develop, and you will see visible changes coming on the car over the next few races."

Asked what the team has learned in Bahrain, Shovlin explained that the team had to do a lot of catching up, especially on tyre management.

"Ultimately, we've got a lot of work to do," he said. "That gap in qualifying was quite large, we were over half a second to the front. In the race that was even bigger.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

"That was compounded by the fact that when you get the tyre degradation you get a bit more sliding, the tyres run hotter, and you end up finding it very difficult to keep them under any kind of control.

"There is a lot that we need to understand, but the key things are really getting on top of that long-run degradation, which last year was a strong point for us.

"Clearly, we've got something that's not in the right place that we need to work on, but ultimately the other thing is that performance gap to the front. The raw pace of the car is not good enough.

"We are working very hard at the moment to understand what we can do in the short-term future and in the mid-term future to try and get ourselves in a better place."

Shovlin said that the team is reacting well to its disappointing start to the season.

"I think seeing how well the team is working together," he said when asked to find positives from the opening race weekend.

"It's a very difficult start to the year, and after the season we had in 2022 we certainly didn't wish for this sort of challenging start.

"But everyone's been very quick to acknowledge that problem. We know that we have a tough journey ahead of us, but we are committed to improving the car, to try and get it back to the front.

"The drivers are very much on board with that, and they have been working very well together to try and help us develop and improve the car.

"It's nice just to see how everyone is very honest about the challenge that is ahead of us, very humble about where we are and what we need to do to move forward, and committed to finding solutions because we are not happy with our current performance.

"We know that's not good enough, but we will be doing everything we can to improve it."

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