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Mercedes: W14 'evolutions' already in development

Mercedes retained their 'zero-sidepod' concept for 2023 but already have new routes in development, according to a team chief.

Mercedes already have different "evolutions" of their W14 Formula 1 car in development, according to trackside engineering chief Andrew Shovlin. The unique 'zero-sidepod' concept has been kept on by the team in 2023 from the troubled W13 machine, with the team suggesting the concept has been changed but the radical bodywork will stay. Lewis Hamilton has said he knew the team had a "mountain to climb" as soon as he drove the W14 for the first time with the eight-time champions enduring a tricky pre-season test in Bahrain. And Shovlin has now revealed that the Brackley-based team are already looking at different concepts.

Different concepts for Mercedes

"In terms of the concept, we'll look at where we are this weekend, look at where we are in the early races," Shovlin explained to Sky Sports F1 after Hamilton and George Russell finished 10th and 11th in FP1 in Bahrain. "We've got evolutions coming in terms of the sidepod design that [technical director] Mike [Elliott] talked about last week, so there's a lot that we need to evaluate anyway. "But we know that porpoising was something that really held us back last year, and if we've got a car that we've managed to eradicate that from, we've got something that we can build and develop on. "But the process of looking at other cars, we're doing that all the time and trying to take any sort of initiatives that we can apply to our car - that's happening constantly in a 23 race season."

Cost cap restrictions

Before the cost cap was introduced, big teams such as Mercedes could spend as much money as required to solve a problem with the car, but with the cap and limited wind-tunnel and CFD runs, teams must now be prudent in their development push. Despite this, Shovlin says Mercedes' fundamental goal is still to just understand the W14. "You are having to think carefully about what you do," he said. "To be honest though, the actual development bit, where you're actually in the wind-tunnel working on concepts trying to solve problems, is not the big way you're spending huge amounts of money. "It's where you're committing things into production, so if affects how quickly you can react to how many developments you might be bringing. "But fundamentally, we've just got to understand where this car is and how to get the most out of it at the moment."

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