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Formula 1 Mercedes launch

Mercedes plans early season sidepod revamp for W14 F1 car

Mercedes plans to change its sidepod concept early in the new Formula 1 season, team boss Toto Wolff has revealed.

Mercedes W14 detail

The German manufacturer launched its new W14 at Silverstone on Wednesday, with the car featuring a more aggressive version of the ‘zero-pod’ concept that it ran with last season.

But with Mercedes now alone in its sidepod design, as most rivals have copied Red Bull’s idea, it has emerged that it too is also readying a different solution.

Speaking at the launch, Wolff said that, while the team did not believe the sidepods were critical to car performance, revisions were in the pipeline.

“Throughout last season we have analysed it back and forth, whether it was right or not,” he said. “Obviously you can see the sidepods are very different to any other car.

“But we believe that this is not a performance-relative part. Obviously, there is no such thing as a holy cow here, and we are looking at everything.

“On the sidepods, this is the first iteration and, when we're going through the first few races, that's going to change a little bit.”

PLUS: Can the W14 take Mercedes back to the top of F1?

The planned changes to the sidepods suggests that the Mercedes concept does not deliver the gains that other designs do.

However, Wolff said he remained happy that his team was willing to try different things in their quest for success.

Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Mick Schumacher, Mercedes Reserve Driver, Toto Wolff, Mercedes F1 Team Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes W14

Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Mick Schumacher, Mercedes Reserve Driver, Toto Wolff, Mercedes F1 Team Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes W14

Photo by: Mercedes AMG

“I think it's important to be bold in the sport and I'm still proud of the solutions that were put on the car last year,” he said. “Our sidepod design is not something that we believe was fundamentally the reason why we didn't perform.”

While teams have traditionally brought aggressive upgrades to the tests and the first race, Wolff said for this year the team’s launch specification was very close to how it will be for the season opener in Bahrain.

“Last year, we learned a tough lesson,” he explained. “We knew that we are going to bring an upgrade package for test number two, and that was worth one and a half seconds.

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“Then, looking at the first test, we were thinking that's not really relevant because that's not going to be the car. Then we put it [the upgrade] on the track, and it wasn't performing at all as we expected.

“So this year, we went the other way around. And what you've seen is, for a large part, the car that we are going to race, also that we're going to test.

“It's fundamentally important to understand the platform and how the car behaves, rather than keeping some bits in the background that may add a tenth of two on pure aero performance.”

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