There are reports today in the British Formula One media that new Mercedes W14 may not be as fast as Lewis Hamilton and his fans hope when the car hits the track in Sakhir next Friday. This website exclusively reports on an even bigger disaster facing the Brackley squad as inherent car problems strike the ailing former Formula 1 superpower.
“There will be a temptation for Toto Wolff and his Mercedes strategists to sandbag as much as possible when their new all-black W14 car takes to the track in the middle of the Bahrain desert.”
The Express continues to explain, “sandbagging has little to do with the granular substance and everything to do with the power of mind games in F1.”
Clearly the writer wishes to convey the message that if Mercedes are not very quick at the Bahrain test, its because they are trying to lure Red Bull Racing into a false sense of security.
Yet given the complexity of the modern cars the idea that Formula One teams try to hide their performance and even components from their competitors in testing seems ludicrous.
Porpoising returns to W14
Of course Mercedes turned up to the second pre-season test with the all new ‘zero-pod’ design, but they weren’t hiding it at the first outing a week earlier, it just wasn’t ready.
At the same test last year, Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly set the fastest time on day one, though the team went on to have one of their worse seasons for some time.
The F1 press was sure Mercedes were sandbagging in Bahrain last year when they repeatedly claimed they were suffering from significant porpoising and recorded times in the nether regions of the top 10.
But they weren’t sandbagging. The W13 was a disaster and the ‘worst car’ he’d ever driven claimed Lewis Hamilton.
If Mercedes are indeed slow in Bahrain next weekend it will be because of worrying issues found with the new W14 discovered when testing/filming at Silverstone following their car launch.
Exclusive: Mercedes suspension failure & tub flex
TJ13 sources have revealed the team are hurriedly manufacturing metallic suspension arms after faults were found with the carbon bones they originally designed and fitted.
The fault is so significant a wrap fix often used when cracks appear in carbon bodywork is considered too big a risk.
Further, despite having passed the FIA crash test, the carbon tub was found to be flexing much more than the desirable amount the team intended.
This will make it more difficult to control the suspension set up and could induce further porpoising for the W14.
TJ13 is led to believe stiffening the tub is a relatively simple fix, though together with the metallic compound now being used for the suspension arms, both fixes will add significant weight to the car.
Fixing the suspension is a more complex problem for the engineers and designers at Brackley to solve. Further the replacement alloy for the original carbon suspension arms will respond differently from the intended flex profile and could exacerbate further the difficulties Mercedes experienced in 2022 with the tyres.
Weight added to W14
Lewis, George and the fans of the Brackley team were wowed at the W14 launch by the new all lack livery. The irony is much of the merely bare carbon on display is an attempt to shed weight.
Clearly the additional weight now being added to the car following the filming day disaster at Silverstone will make the car slower when it hits the track in anger on Friday.
Pre-season testing is a classic time for tin foil hat conspiracy theorists as the F1 observers attempt to glean all they can from the new car components and their relative on track performance.
So it could be the writer in today’s Daily Express is setting expectations for Mercedes fans who will believe the team is sandbagging when the car appears slow five days from now in Bahrain.