Mercedes mistakenly admit breach of engine freeze

Mercedes W14 E car launch at Silverstone today leaves just Alpine to reveal something of their Formula One challenger for 2023. The all black offering from Brackley was disappointing to say the least.

The question on many F1 berserks lips was would the team retain the ‘zeropods’ from the W13 as Toto Wolff had previously promised the DNA of the car would change for 2023.




Mercedes W14 retains ‘zeropods’ for now

Mike Elliot contradicted this stating the W14 retained “the DNA of the W13 but also a lot of evolution and detail improvement”.

However the revolutionary slim sides of the Mercedes are set to change fairly soon according to Wolff.

“The sidepods will change, not very soon, but we’re looking at solutions, but it’s not a core fundamental performance part, as we judge.”

“I think it’s important to be bold in this sport, and I’m still proud of the solutions that were put in the car last year,” he explained. 



W14 surprising contains DNA of poor performing W13

“Our sidepod design is not something that we believe was fundamentally the reason why we didn’t perform.

“We’re looking, there is no holy cows in our concept. It’s not that we don’t want to follow anybody’s ideas. 

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.”

Reading between the lines, the sidepod alternations coming will be minor and the W14 will overall retain its super slim look.



Where F1 techy guys say too much

The launch included a techy section where Mercedes technical director, Mike Elliott and powertrain program managing director, Hywel Thomas discussed the changes and improvements they have made to their 2023 car – the W14.

Sky’s Natalie Pinkham asked how the challenges of 2022 and the poorly performing W13 affected “the team mindset coming in 2023.”

Hywei Thomas was first to respond 

“The mindset I’ve seen and the one we discussed has been about relentless development. 

“On the PU (power unit) side we’ve had more and more constraints as the regulations changed. 



Software freeze for F1 engines kicks in for 2023

“We’ve had at the start of last year a hardware freeze. At the start of this year its going to be a software performance freeze.

“And therefore finding performance within those constraints is so much harder and its only through real innovation and relentless work can you bring any performance forward and that’s the mindset I see.”

Clearly F1 techy’s are not used to public appearances and so cannot be expected to have those savvy media presentation skills displayed by team bosses and drivers.



Team bosses to savvy to admit ‘searching for engine performance gains’

Neither Toto Wolff or Christian Horner in a month of Sundays would admit under the current power unit freeze regulations that they’d been searching for performance improvements.

Neither would they admit that the mindset of the team was to bring “forward performance” given article 4 of the technical regulations which states:

“A manufacturer may apply to the FIA during the course of the homologation period to conduct modifications to the homologated power unit elements for the sole purposes of reliability, safety, cost saving, or minimal incidental changes permitted in [Article] 5.4.”



Alpine call for FIA to be ‘stronger’

Mercedes Hywei Thomas in expressing how proud he is of the efforts from his team has inadvertently revealed their focus for the power unit changes they’ve made has been for performance reasons – and not reliability of safety.

Alpine’s head of power trains, Bruno Famin, recently admitted Renault had received up to 70 requests from other manufacturers to alter components within the frozen architecture of their power units.

Bruno Famin queried whether some of their competitors upgrades should be investigated by the FIA where poor reliability as an explanation is questionable. 



What really matters: reliability of performance?

“Behind the reliability issue you often have a potential performance gain, of course. The limit is not exactly always super clear.”

“If you have a water pump issue, as we had in ‘22, it’s quite clear it’s a pure reliability issue, there is nothing to gain in having a better or different water pump.”

“If need to change the material of the piston rings, OK, you will be able to have something stronger to have more performance, then where is the limit? It’s not obvious.



Alpine boss ‘unnecessary component replacements’

Thomas’ admissions should open the door to the FIA returning to the Mercedes power unit upgrades made since it was frozen in March 2022.

Clearly there is intent to find performance in Brixworth and as Famin explains, components that haven’t failed but are being replaced under the guise of improved reliability are clearly performance oriented and should therefore be banned by the FIA.



Mercedes Tech Officer can’t rule out more porpoising

Of equal concern to the drivers was that when asked about porpoising, Mike Elliot replied with uncertainty.

“The easy answer is I hope not,” 

“I think when you look at the sort of the learning we took from last year, you look at the tools that we put together, hopefully [it won’t porpoise]. 

“We’ve got all the right metrics in place to understand what we need to do to the car so it doesn’t bounce but fingers crossed.”

READ MORE: Alpine F1 car livery leak

2 responses to “Mercedes mistakenly admit breach of engine freeze

  1. Mercedes (read Wolff amd Hamilton) are so desperate that they would do ANYTHING including engine breach. Duplicity, strategem and double-dealing are in their DNA. Perhaps all the revolt against Ben Sulayen is inspired by the duo, so that they can escape AGAIN and go scot free after their breach. Will the other teams stand up against the deceit practised by MB and raise a ruckus is the big question.

  2. Give it a rest Vijay – if you were to take your blinkers off for even a second, you would realise that there are PLENTY of performance upgrades available without breaching the engine freeze – fuels and fluids for a start
    you really are quite pathetic with you continual hatred. I bet you’ve been chomping at the bit for weeks, waiting for

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