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Have Mercedes gone down a dead end?

The anticipated Mercedes fightback appears to be a muted one, if pre-season testing is anything to go by. RacingNews365's technical expert Paolo Filisetti gives his verdict on Mercedes ahead of the F1 season opener.

There weren't many positive signs from Mercedes' test sessions, apart from the times set on the last day, which were completed using the C5 tyres, the softest available tyre. In fact, the Brackley team seemed to be in limbo regarding set-ups, with the W14 appearing unpredictable and inconsistent in performance. As we know, the W14 is based on the same design principles as the W13, with the aim of revising and correcting the weaknesses. The opinion of some rival technicians is that this project represents an evolution that can only partially solve the problems of the previous car and won't lend itself to developments that increase performance in an appreciable way, whilst maintaining the current aerodynamic concept. The W14 appeared to suffer from poor balance. The fact is that the W14 does not generate the downforce necessary to glue it to the ground. The rear grip breaks down constantly at corner exit, while the front end is imprecise on corner entry due to the lack of grip induced by the low available downforce.

Mercedes were cautious about how committed they are to the current car design concept, and haven't ruled out bringing developments which move away from their current philosophy. Some speculate that the team already has a 'B-spec' version in the pipeline, which could be introduced later in the year. However, factors such as the cost cap might make it difficult to experiment with a completely different solution in the same season.

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