Its almost over. The 2023 Formulas One car launch season lurched forward again today as Mercedes revealed what they hope will be a car that can once again challenge for race wins.
Officially titled the ‘Mercedes-AMG F1 W14 E PERFORMANCE’, the 2023 car has extra eco friendly branding with the neatly inserted “E” after the W14.
Mercedes F1 car launch reveals boring livery
The car was revealed at Silverstone and immediately following the launch the team will complete a filming day of 100km with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton splitting the days running between them.
Lewis Hamilton when asked commented, “It looks great in black”, though that of course fits a social agenda he’s pursued over a number of years.
The best Formula One car launches have been either a spectacular event, one where technical wizardry catches the eye or even an occasion where just the look of the car solicits a “wow” from the assembled audience.
Spectacular Force India F1 launch in Mumbai
Vijay Mallya organised probably one of the most spectacular F1 car launches with the debut of the VJM01 in Mumbai.
The car was revealed in front of the historic Gateway to India facade and the paunch ran all day and into the night, with Malaya’s yacht party still going strong the next morning.
Lotus F1 liveries quite beautiful
A few F1 fans today may even remember the fabulous liveries of the Colin Chapman cars in particular the 1968 Gold Leaf Lotus and the 1972 John Player Special.
With just Alpine left to reveal something of their 2023 F1 challenger, having endured what has been one of the longest winter breaks in recent years – due to the world cup – the beginning of the new season with the teams revealing their cars has been something of an anti climax.
From mere online renders, to poorly organised events to promote their partners the teams, with the exception of Ferrari, have failed to wow their supporters as they stumble across the line often with blatantly freshly painted 2020 show cars.
2023 F1 liveries at launch ‘depressing’
Even more dismal is the common livery theme.
Black carbon in copious quantities is on display everywhere and Mercedes were ‘top of the hill’ when it came to today’s big reveal.
Mercedes ran their cars during the 2020/21 campaigns in a predominantly black livery to promote diversity and equality, though at their 2022 launch Toto Wolff revealed why the car had once again become predominantly silver.
Mercedes claimed they were returning to Silver Arrows colours
“The black livery was a clear intent and a clear demonstration of our mission to become a more diverse and inclusive team,” Wolff said.
“It has become part of our DNA, but the silver colour of the Silver Arrows is as much our DNA, it’s our history. As a team we have grown from the Silver Arrows to slowly becoming a more diverse and inclusive team and therefore our colours going forward will be silver and black.
However colour experts would be challenged to find a hint of silver at the revelation of today’s W14 E. The car is predominantly black with white sticker logos for the main partners and flashes of yellow on Hamilton’s number 44, engine cover and the roll bar camera.
Mercedes still overweight
Clearly the W14 E is a heft beast given Mercedes extreme measures compared to other F1 competitors. By comparison the RB19 appeared to have a similar amount of paint when compared to 2022.
Red Bull designed a new super “lightweight” floor which they never fitted to the car in 2022 according to the FIA’s race weekend listing of new parts. So it maybe in this department Mercedes are still struggling more than tie chief rivals.
“We were overweight last year,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff today.
“This year we have tried to figure out where we can squeeze out every single gram. So now, history repeats itself.”
F1 teams desperate to shed weight on the car
The trend towards leaving raw black exposed carbon fibre bodywork increased significantly in 2022 with the new ground effect regulations. With the minimum weight of the car as regulated by the FIA, rising by 45kg, all the teams bar Alfa Romeo built cars significantly over the allowance.
This years crop is even worse as the teams scramble for marginal gains in performance. The cars have been launched in sympathetic floodlighting, however when they hit the circuit proper, much of the highlight colours contrasting the vast swathes of black bodywork will fade.
Missing ‘partner’ stickers at F1 launch
The Mercedes revealed today will have significantly more partner stickers on the bodywork when it hits the track in Bahrain. They presumably left some of the more minor partners from the car as the fussiness of their small logos and names would ruin the sleek effect of the black W14 E.
The hope for Mercedes and others is the messiness of this arrangement will be lost in the excitement of fans and F1 pundits alike pouring over the performance details from next weeks pre-season test in Bahrain.
Car liveries go the heart of the corporate identity of the teams’ main sponsors as was evident in the Gold Leaf and John Player Special Lotus colours of 1968 and 1972.
This is why for Mercedes the luminous green strip synonymous with Petronas along the side of the car is more prominent than any silver highlights.
FIA will see the need to act
We will see when all 20 cars are on track in Bahrain whether the impression of Formula One is more akin to a spec. Series with a single sponsor as black car after black car flashes past the camera lenses.
To prevent this competitive nonsense between the teams its surely time for the FIA to regulate that a given % of all the cars’ bodywork must be coated with a layer of paint no less than 2mm thick.
This would meet with little resistance form the teams given it would be the same rule for everyone and no weight advantage can then be gained from absent paintwork.