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Analysis
Formula 1 Monaco GP

The key details behind Mercedes' W14 F1 upgrade in Monaco

Mercedes' much-vaunted Formula 1 upgrade has arrived in Monaco, as the team abandons its zero-pod solution in favour of a design more akin to its rivals.

Mercedes W14 technical detail

Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

Giorgio Piola is the preeminent Formula 1 technical journalist. Born in Genoa, Italy, Giorgio has covered the F1 World Championship since 1969, producing thousands of illustrations that have been reproduced in the world’s most prestigious motor racing publications.

As expected, the new design takes inspiration from other solutions employed throughout the grid. However, there's clearly delineation in its design profile in order to integrate it with the W14's core design principles.

This has been made even more difficult by the cost cap and resulting resource restrictions. In the past, teams may have considered a full-blown B-spec redesign and manufacture but this is no longer an option. As such, there's always going to be a considerable trade-off when shifting to a new concept as not everything can be placed optimally.

In this respect, one major feature of the zero-pod design has been retained as part of the overhaul. The Side Impact Spar (SIS) fairing has been retained ahead of the main sidepod assembly. Moving it inside is not possible without the homologation of a new chassis, meaning the team has had to incorporate the fairing into the sidepod's revisions.

The winglet mounted below and on the outer extremity of the SIS fairing has also been retained, but modified to better suit the flow characteristics required. The SIS fairing itself is positioned to help to direct the airflow towards the inlet, which has been widened but is also shallower to create a more traditional undercut beneath it.

Thereafter the undercut is smoothed into a flatter surface profile, which is married to the new downwash ramp-style upper portion of the sidepod.

This upper surface of the sidepod also retains some commonality with its predecessor, as an interchangeable louvred cooling panel resides on the top surface, allowing heat to be rejected based on the circuit's characteristics and the panel chosen.

The sidepod's downwash ramp also features the waterslide approach seen on other cars. The design favoured by Mercedes is more comparable with those of Alpine or McLaren rather than Aston Martin, owing to the height that's been allowed for the ramp section as it tapers towards the rear of the car.

Mercedes W14 technical detail

Mercedes W14 technical detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The updates introduced by Mercedes go beyond just the sidepods however. Changes made to the front suspension are perhaps even more intriguing, given that they will have both aerodynamic and mechanical consequences.

This is the primary reason why the team has been prepared to run the gauntlet of introducing a large update package on the tight and barrier-lined streets of Monte Carlo, as one element of its package will not deliver the performance it is looking for without the other.

The main change is to the lead arm of the upper wishbone, as the inboard end now finds a home in the highest position possible on the forward corner of the chassis, rather than a few inches below.

This will have implications in terms of the suspension's behaviour under certain modes, with dive being the most prominent. This will assist not only from a mechanical standpoint but aerodynamically too.

The change in position for the lead arm has also resulted in the team paying particular attention to the fairing's topology, with a section of it turned down to the oncoming airflow in order to better manage its behaviour thereafter (red arrow).

There's still likely more to come from Mercedes too, with a new floor also on the agenda in order to take advantage of the other changes.

Mercedes W14 front suspension comparison

Mercedes W14 front suspension comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

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