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Why Mercedes has been forced back to a black F1 livery

Mercedes' W14 has been unveiled for the 2023 season, as the machine reverts to an all-black livery. But it is not for the same reasons as before.

The most striking aspect of the brand-new Mercedes W14 2023 Formula 1 car is the fact that it has returned to the all-black livery seen in previous years. In 2020, during the COVID-19-induced delay to the start of the season, and amid global protests after the murder of George Floyd, the team elected to switch the W11 to an all-black livery in the fight against racism and promoting diversity. It was kept on 2021's W12, before the W13 reverted back to Mercedes' traditional silver colours. However, the W14 is in black - but team boss Toto Wolff has revealed that a crucial 2023 battle is the overriding reason for the switch to black. It is one every team is grasping with on the grid.

Why Mercedes are in black

The weight of F1 cars has ballooned in recent years, with the 2023 cars set to have a minimum dry weight of 798kg. Some teams will be over that as they try to shave every extra gram they possibly can off the car. The easiest way to do this is by not painting the car and running with exposed carbon fibre wherever possible. It might only be a few grams of weight that is saved but it all adds up when the stop-watch reveals its truth. "We were overweight last year, and this year we have tried to figure out where we can squeeze out every single gram," Wolff explained. "So now history repeats itself. You will see that the car has some raw carbon bits along with some that are painted matte black. "Of course when we changed the livery in 2020, the main driving factor was to support the diversity and equality causes which are always close to our heart. "The colour black became part of our DNA at that point, so we are pleased to return to it."

A quiet overhaul of W14

The W13 claimed just a single race win via George Russell in Brazil as the team struggled with an uncompetitive and unpredictable car for most of the 2022 season. The problems were quickly identified with a "huge amount of work" required in the words of technical director Mike Elliott - who is pleased with the result. "Last year, once we had figured out what we needed to do, it took a huge amount of work to get ourselves moving forward," he explained. "Towards the end of the season, you could see the performance improving and the winter has been a reset. "We have done all the things that we wanted to do with the W13 last year but weren't able to because of resource constraints or because our focus was elsewhere fixing other issues. "With this generation of cars, the performance is all in the detail. When you look at the W14, you will see the DNA of the W13 but also a lot of evolution and detail improvement," Elliott added. Areas Elliott and his design team have been focused on vary from a lighter chassis, revised front suspension and a tweaked aerodynamic concept which is all aimed at giving Russell and Lewis Hamilton a more consistent car balance.

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