“Back in black” - Mercedes reveal their challenger for 2023: The W14
Written by Vyas Ponnuri, Edited by Simran Kanthi
Mercedes’ 2023 season kicked off in grand style, the Brackley-based outfit revealing a stunning, eye-catching all-black livery, a season after returning to the iconic silver shade on their cars. Their all-black W14 carries on a trend of cars carrying the shade of black for the upcoming 2023 season, all the teams look to save weight on their cars, and edge ever closer to the weight limit of 798 kg.
This is the third instance of Mercedes revealing a car donning the black livery, the first being traced back to the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. Back then, the team chose to go with this as a mark of respect to George Floyd, and the resultant Black Lives Matter protests. Mercedes opted to continue with the design for the 2021 season, before the aforementioned return to silver for the new regulations. This year, the switch to an all-black livery stems from the growing requirements to shave off as much weight as possible, from the car.
Nevertheless, the blacked-out W14 stole the show, and caught social media by storm. After all, the last time the Mercedes cars donned the black shade, it stirred up a frenzy among the F1 Paddock. Many were hoping for the Silver Arrows to ditch their traditional silver for black, and sure enough, the eight-time Constructors champions decided to go with the trend.
Another nice touch comes in the form of the drivers’ race numbers; George Russell’s #63 embellished in green, and Lewis Hamilton’s #44 continues to follow the Briton’s helmet-matching yellow from last year, with the T-Bar carrying the same colour too. The same colour pattern carries on to inserts on the wheel covers as well. And it won’t be long until the car will make its on-track debut, as both Hamilton and Russell will test the car out later in the day, in a shakedown at Silverstone.
A further look at the W14 and its predecessor tell us about Mercedes’ continuity with their “zero sidepods'' concept. This has been reiterated by technical director Mike Elliot, who stated “Last year, there were times when we were questioning ourselves and asking - have we made a major mistake? Do we need to change what we are fundamentally doing? But you know, if you tear it all up and start again, you’re going to start further back than where you are.” Despite their optimism around the “zero sidepods'' concept, team principal Toto Wolff stated that the sidepod design could be subject to change with further upgrades during the season: “We kept staying with the narrow sidepod as it is, but you could well see some development from now on that could be coming with the upgrades and the sidepods will change – not very soon, but we are looking at solutions. But it’s not a core, fundamental performance part as far as we judge.”
For 2023, the team has opted for sidepods with elongated contours towards the rear. Another area of difference to the predecessor is the rear wing, which has been redesigned for 2023. The W14 also features a longer nose, with the triangular tip at the front reminiscent of last year’s Ferrari car.
Yet, the team is playing down its expectations, stating the eight-time World Champions to be no closer to reigning champions Red Bull at the start of the season. In the words of Toto Wolff: “We strive to fight for the world championship. However, we know that our opponents were very strong last season and that we have to catch up.”
The all-black W14 carries the weight of expectations of the Mercedes’ faithful. The team will be hoping their trust in the “zero sidepods” concept eventually pays off, and the W14 doesn’t suffer from the same set of problems faced by its predecessor. More importantly, Mercedes will be pinning their hopes on the W14 being potent to take the fight to their rivals Red Bull and Ferrari, and get back to their form of the old. But, with expectations at Brackley kept in check, it still remains a question if the team will be able to make the major step forward, and aid Russell and Hamilton’s quest for race victories in 2023. Only time will be able to give us the answer to this question.