Mercedes says that it will introduce “visible changes” to the W14 in the coming races as it aims to decrease the pace deficit to the front of the field.
Mercedes endured a challenging opening round to the campaign in Bahrain last weekend, qualifying well over half a second down on pole-sitter Max Verstappen.
In the race, its competitive level dipped further and appeared as the fourth fastest squad with Red Bull, Aston Martin and Ferrari finishing in front of it.
Team CEO Toto Wolff accepted that the unique narrow sidepod design that Mercedes has used with since 2022 will not make the team competitive going forward.
Speaking in the most recent F1 Debrief video from Mercedes, Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin says that there will be notable alterations made to the car soon.
“People have tended to use the word concept when they mean the sidepod design,” he said. “Toto had said recently that we’re looking at a revision that is going to come along in the next few races anyway.
“Given the gap to the front, of course we’re going to look at bigger departures, more radical changes.
“But those changes take time to turn into a faster solution in the wind tunnel. You can’t do them overnight, there’s quite a lot of development that you’ve got to do around any sort of big change in geometry in that area.
“So as I said, of course we’re looking at where we can improve the car. We’re looking for potential to develop and you will see visible changes coming on the car over the next few races.”
Mercedes had a difficult 2022 campaign that saw it take just one race victory toward the end of the season.
Its late-2022 form gave the impression that it would start the 2023 campaign on a stronger foot – but it has acknowledged that there are various issues it still needs to bridge if it is to become competitive again.
“Ultimately we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Shovlin said. “That gap in qualifying was quite large, we were over half a second to the front.
“In the race, that was even bigger though. That was compounded by the fact that once you get tyre degradation, you get a bit more sliding, the tyres run hotter and you end up finding it very difficult to keep them under any kind of control.
“There’s a lot that we need to understand. The key things are really getting on top of that long run degradation. Last year that was a strong point for us.
“Clearly we’ve got something that’s not in the right place that we need to work on. The other one is ultimately the performance gap to the front. The raw pace of the car is not good enough.
“We’re working very hard at the moment to understand what we can do in the short term future and the mid term future to try and get ourselves in a better place.”