The start of the season was certainly not what Mercedes had hoped for after all the work done during the winter break, in which the team had chosen to continue along the same lines as in 2022 in terms of design.
A choice that didn’t turn out to be correct, partly because, as explained by George Russell in some interviews, the team was perhaps too conservative during the development of the car for fear that porpoising could reoccur, partly because in any case gave the desired effects despite the fact that the designers were able to reach the set targets.
For this reason, already at the end of qualifying in Bahrain, Toto Wolff hadn’t held back, suggesting that the time had come for a change of concept on which the Stella technicians have already started working over the last few weeks. Changes that Russell has already begun testing in the simulator, suggesting that in terms of lap time gains over the past three weeks have been higher than those found during the interior.
However, the latest big news in recent weeks has been the return to the technical direction of James Allison in place of Mike Elliott, who, on the contrary, has assumed the position of Chief Technical Officer. A disguised “rejection” for Elliott, who will now focus his attention on supervising the 2026 projects, while Allison will return to closely follow the development of the current single-seaters to give new life to the team.
In his previous tenure, Allison hadn’t been particularly actively involved in the development of the W14, but was still able to gain insight into the car’s areas of strength and weakness. Despite George Russell’s retirement in Australia due to a problem with the internal combustion engine, the English engineer underlined that the single-seater seems reliable and gentle on tyres, even if not as much as some Mercedes of the past.
“It’s reliable, this is a strong point. It has a very good pair of drivers driving it. It’s better than most of the starting grid. But until it’s the fastest, it will always be a weak car for all of us. It’s suitably kind to its tires, but it’s not as good as some of the cars we’ve built in the past. It has more downforce than most of the cars on the grid, but it’s not enough.”
James Allison, Technical Director, Mercedes AMG
Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images
“Its handling characteristics leave something to be desired and definitely need to be improved. But none of this is a revelation. We talked about it almost every weekend. And that’s part of what the team goes through to get the winning material back into our hands,” Allison explained to Formula 1 podcasts.
The W14 seems to express itself well above all on those front-limited circuits, where it is more important to have a good front than a solid rear. It is no coincidence that the German single-seater performed well in Saudi Arabia and Australia, however showing some more difficulties in Bahrain, a traction track where the rear axle needs to be protected. A perspective confirmed by Allison and which also follows the words spoken by Lewis Hamilton a few weeks ago, who had criticized some design choices, emphasizing the lack of grip at the rear.
“It is still too early to diagnose which are the characteristics of the car and which are not, because the car is not a fixed thing. It is a platform that develops over the course of the year. If I had to come up with something now, I’d say that we tend to be a bit stronger on front-limited circuits rather than the heavily rear-limited ones.”
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14
Photo by: Mark Horsburgh / Motorsport Images
“A circuit like the one in Bahrain relies on the car’s ability to better manage the rear tyres. Melbourne was a little more front-limited. Other front-limited circuits are Barcelona and Silverstone. But honestly it’s too early to make predictions, there’s still a lot to do”.
Updates are arriving for the next appointments, starting from Baku: “The new updates are already arriving. Every race weekend you basically have a different car. Sometimes it’s a few more pieces, sometimes a few less pieces. But we have news for every race, and Baku will be no exception, and I hope we can continue like this.”
“In the end you are forced to respect the cost limits. But we are at a stage of the season where there is still plenty of firepower to continue progressing from weekend to weekend,” added the technical director.
#Allison #W14 #news #Baku #invest #lot