Mercedes drew attention for their change of sidepods in Monaco, but there were other parts to examine on the W14 that changed, with former F1 driver Alexander Wurz pointing to the updated front suspension that could yield big benefits for the team.
The team brought the updated W14 to Monaco having ordered wholesale changes to the car’s philosophy, with the ‘zero-pod’ sidepod inlets having been ditched for a more conventional setup in the most striking visual change to what Mercedes ran at the weekend.
This move grabbed the most headlines given the team’s approach to the sidepods was a unique one at the beginning of last season, but it was but one of several upgrades brought to Monte Carlo over the weekend – with new front fences and a new engine cover also in play, alongside a Monaco-specific high-downforce rear wing.
But updated front suspension was also included on the upgrade list for Mercedes, with the FIA’s ‘show and tell’ document detailing that the Silver Arrows’ updated suspension was put in place with the intention of improving wishbone wake, which combines with improving airflow to the new sidepods and, in turn, should improve how the W14 cools itself over the course of a lap.
Beyond those benefits, however, Wurz described the impact that upgraded suspension had at the team last season when they introduced similar improvements in that area of the car, and wondered if there could be another performance hit this time around – though he admitted the Spanish Grand Prix will provide a better barometer for how well the upgrades have worked, rather than around the tight, twisty streets of Monte Carlo.
“I happen to know that they had completely new kinematics, front suspension geometry,” Wurz explained on the F1 Nation podcast.
“And we’ve seen with the Mercedes car at certain times, let’s remember Budapest last year, when from almost out of nowhere, came Q3 and George Russell put it on pole, because suddenly that car mechanically, the tyres worked together so well, and it generated enormous grip.
“I mean, that was a decisive moment for them to keep this philosophy, so I was watching very, very much.
“Could you read something off a geometry? Is the driver more confident to rotate the car into the corner with more control? And it seems the answer is yes, a little bit.
“But I still saw the same phenomenon in Q1. I mean, maybe it just looked like it, I don’t have the data to analyse it unfortunately, but it still looked like it needed the tyre grip to come down, the circuit to evolve with grip level that the Mercedes suddenly switched on in Q3, more than it did in Q1 and Q2.
“So maybe they haven’t solved this phenomenon, but I felt it was interesting to say at least, but bottom line is all my words are for nothing – we have to wait for Barcelona for the true extent of this update.”