MONACO: All eyes were on Mercedes’ garage as the F1 teams continued to unpack their freight and complete their final preparations for the Monaco Grand Prix weekend.
However, it wasn’t just the usual race-day buzz that had everyone talking. The spotlight was on Mercedes’ new-look sidepods, which will be the talk of the town during this star-studded event.
Last season, Mercedes introduced a radical design with their W13, featuring what was popularly dubbed the “zero-pod.”
The design was unique compared to Ferrari’s baby bath look and Red Bull’s undercut. However, as the season progressed, it became apparent that the zero-pods were causing stability issues for the team.
Mercedes suffered from more porpoising than any other team on the grid, leading to a disappointing third-place finish in the constructors’ championship and a winless season for Lewis Hamilton.
Despite the setbacks, Mercedes stuck with the zero-pods for this year’s W14, promising significant changes to performance.
However, after the Bahrain Grand Prix, Team Principal Toto Wolff admitted that the car needed alterations to win races. Mercedes has finally made the long-awaited decision, and the zero-pods are no more.
Displayed in the Monte Carlo pit lane, the new sidepod design features a wider and rounded inlet with a tunnel underneath, drawing inspiration from Red Bull’s downwash design without the severe undercut.
Observers have noted that the new sidepods lean more towards the aesthetics of Aston Martin and Alpine than Red Bull.
Mercedes has also adjusted the front suspension layout, introduced a new floor for the W14, and modified the cooling system.
These upgrades aim to provide a notable improvement over the car that raced in Miami. Although fans are hopeful for a significant leap forward, Lewis Hamilton remains cautiously optimistic.
Recognising the team’s challenges, Hamilton admitted that he didn’t expect a one-second improvement, which he believes is necessary.
However, he views the changes as a step in the right direction and hopes they will facilitate progress for Mercedes. Team principal Toto Wolff echoes Hamilton’s sentiments, urging everyone to manage their expectations.
While he doesn’t anticipate an immediate surge in performance, Wolff believes that the changes lay a new foundation and address issues that have hindered the team’s speed. He remains eager to see how these adjustments will shape Mercedes’ performance in the future.
As the Monaco Grand Prix approaches, all eyes will be on Mercedes, scrutinising their new sidepods and the impact of the modifications.
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