Mercedes reportedly already has a B-spec package in mind as a contingency plan in case its revolutionary zero sidepod concept fails to produce the desired results again in 2023.
The German marque bucked the trend by opting for a completely different bodywork design to the rest of the Formula 1 grid for the start of last year’s significant technical overhaul.
Despite a disappointing season that consisted of only a solitary win – George Russell leading a 1-2 for the team in Brazil – Mercedes has elected to retain its current design philosophy for this season.
Although Mercedes believe it has understood the troubles that hampered its 2022 campaign, Sky Sports F1 reporter Ted Kravitz has revealed it already has an alternative solution ready to be unleashed if performance doesn’t progress as anticipated.
“They’re giving their big idea, that was a failure last year, one more go,” Kravitz claimed.
“But I believe they have a ‘Plan B’ in production, and if they need to, they can go to a ‘Plan B’, which is the Red Bull or Ferrari style of doing things, in the middle of the season.
“At the moment they’re saying, look, we think we’ve got a proper handle on what went wrong last year. We still believe that our way – unique in the pit lane of having very slim sideboards – is the way to go aerodynamically.
“And anyway, they say most of the downforce is generated by the floor, which you can’t see, but they’re saying don’t expect anything too soon.
“I think if they went away without three or four wins in a season, they’d be disappointed.”
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff and Hamilton have already cautiously warned the W14 may not be a front-running package at the beginning of the season.
However, the Brackley-based outfit is hopeful that, eventually, its ambitious interpretation of the regulations can eventually fire them back into the mix with Ferrari and Red Bull.
Kravitz has therefore insisted that Mercedes already has upgrades in the pipeline to further put aside the problems it encountered last season.
“My reading of that was we’ve [Mercedes] have got more things coming online.
“We’ve got developments of the European season and we think they’re going to work, but maybe the figures are very wrong eventually.”
As the reigning champions, Red Bull will be the team everybody else, including Mercedes, has to catch in 2023 and Kravitz believes the Austrian side will uphold three key advantages that could give it the edge at the start of the season.
“Red Bull will start with the lightweight chassis that they introduced and designed and we think never raced towards the end of the year ,” Kravitz added.
“They’ll start with that as a base. They will develop that, so it will be underweight and they can ballast it up to meet the weight limit.”
“Benefit two, they will have done all the academic work and design before the restrictions they had on the accepted breach agreement of their cost cap restrictions came in, their penalty for that,” he explained.
“So they’ve done all the work before that even comes in and towards the end of this year and next year it will start to bite,” he continued.
“And number three, they have the best driver on the grid in terms of form at the moment. Even considering Lewis Hamilton.
“As we haven’t seen the championship form of Lewis yet because he hasn’t been in the championship [fight] since the end of 2021, which we know what happened then.
“Max Verstappen is bang in form and I think that is the third part of a secret weapon that should make them nigh on unbeatable.”