Mercedes will not be able to identify any major issues or address the problems in the W14 during pre-season testing, which paves a grave problem for the Silver Arrows, according to technical director Mike Elliot.
Elliott is concerned since the team spent far more time finding a solution to the porpoising problem that plagued the Mercedes challenger last season.
It wasn’t just the results that forced the Silver Arrows to spend more time than they would have liked in its development, as Lewis hamilton’s back pain from the car pushed the team to find a means to rectify the W13.
Hamilton had famously walked out the W13 clutching his back following the Azerbaijan Grand Prix last year.
With the team having started so miserably in the early part of the season, there was a thought in the paddock that the team should solely focus on the 2023 challenger since they were so far off the pace compared to Red Bull.
However, this has massively backfired as the Silver Arrows noticed a “few niggles” in the W14 when the car hit the track for the first time in its Silverstone track demo run.
While a shakedown the next day was reportedly “smooth”, the team is still nervous about how the car will fare in the Bahrain season-opener.
There will be pre-season testing ahead of the season as is customary, but Elliott is not sure those three days will allow Mercedes with enough time to cover up for any technical glitches.
Elliott feels the real problems in the car may pop up only after the season is formally underway.
“We never really got on top of the car balance last year,” he said.
“All the normal work we do at the beginning of the season didn’t happen because of the problems we were trying to rectify. With only three days of testing this year, that has two big impacts.
“The first is in reliability – if we are not reliable in the test, then we will have very limited mileage to learn.
“We also won’t be able to measure the car’s absolute reliability too much, because over three days you are not going to get huge amounts of running.
“These cars are now so reliable that you need more mileage than three days to really start seeing some of the issues.”
Mercedes working against the clock to find problem areas in W14
Elliott further explained how the team will be working against the clock to learn all it can about the shortcomings and problem areas of its challenger.
“The second big impact is that we’ve got to use our limited time as efficiently as possible,” he said.
“We’ve got to learn as much as we can, to work out how to get the most performance out of the car and what we can learn to feed into the next developments.”
But, on a more positive note, he later added: “As we develop the car throughout the winter, we test as much as we can on rigs. We do everything we can to make sure that the car is reliable, and that the performance we expect is measured as best as we can.”