Mercedes 'freed' by F1 suspension upgrade

The Mercedes Formula 1 team is expected to place an emphasis on upgrading its suspension for 2024 having been "given more freedom" by recent changes, according to Andrew Shovlin.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have complained about lacking confidence with the rear axle of the W14. This is partly due to the cockpit being placed further forwards relative to previous years, but any resolution will have to wait for an all-new chassis to be constructed for next season.

By way of a more immediate fix for the nervous handling, as part of its major upgrade package that bore more conventional sidepods, Mercedes fitted an updated front suspension set-up for the Monaco Grand Prix last month.

The repositioned wishbone was primarily designed to work in tandem with the new sidepod concept by improving airflow and cooling. But the greater capacity to adjust geometries also improves stability.

Mercedes engineering director Shovlin said: “It is a case of trying to play with those geometries to get an influence on the aero platform to try and get a bit more stability in the car.

“It's probably given us more freedom because the issue that we always had prior to that was getting good front end when you needed it at the apex and good entry stability when you're hard on the brakes and turning in.

“That compromise was always something that we couldn't resolve. You're always left with either a weak rear on entry or a poor front at apex. So, hopefully, that's moved us in the right direction.”

However, since these tweaks have arrived mid-season to be fitted the original concept and come during an era of the cost cap that limits development, they will always carry an element of compromise.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, 2nd position, arrives in Parc Ferme

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, 2nd position, arrives in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

As such, Shovlin expects bespoke suspension, particularly around the rear of the car, to be a major point of focus for the 2024 Mercedes when the budget cap and aerodynamic testing restrictions reset.

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He explained: “Fundamentally, we've done a new suspension this year. Suspensions are expensive things to bring to the car. So, the reality is with the cost cap, we're always looking at the championship situation.

“We don't know how much we will do. I wouldn't expect that we're going to be making massive strides.

“What we have realised is there's actually quite a rich seam of development here that we can start to look at. So those programmes are working.

“But the challenge is always how you get your aerodynamics and your vehicle dynamics to work together and optimise. Every team's up to that kind of process.

“But it's looking at where are the opportunities and how can you bring the two together so they work as one package.”

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