Both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have expressed concerns over their lack of confidence in the rear axle of the W14 Formula 1 car. This issue is partly attributed to the cockpit being positioned further forward compared to previous years. However, the resolution will have to wait until the construction of an entirely new chassis for the next season.
To address the immediate problem of the car’s nervous handling, Mercedes implemented an updated front suspension setup as part of its significant upgrade package, which also featured more conventional sidepods. This adjustment was primarily intended to complement the new sidepod concept by enhancing airflow and cooling. However, it also provided greater flexibility in adjusting the suspension’s geometries, resulting in improved stability.
Mercedes’ engineering director, Shovlin, explained, “We are experimenting with these geometries to influence the aerodynamic platform, aiming to achieve greater stability in the car. It has given us more freedom because the previous issue we faced was finding a good front end during apex turns while maintaining entry stability when braking and turning. This compromise had always been a challenge for us. We were often left with either a weak rear during entry or a poor front at the apex. Hopefully, this adjustment has pushed us in the right direction.”
However, since these tweaks were introduced mid-season, requiring modifications to the original design and occurring during an era of cost limitations, compromises were inevitable. Shovlin anticipates that the focus for the 2024 Mercedes car, when the budget cap and aerodynamic testing restrictions reset, will be on developing bespoke suspension systems, particularly at the rear of the vehicle.
He further elaborated, “We have essentially introduced a new suspension this year. Suspensions are expensive components to introduce to the car. Hence, with the cost cap in place, we must always consider the championship situation. I don’t expect us to make significant strides in this regard. However, we have discovered a wealth of development opportunities that we can explore. We have ongoing programs to explore these opportunities. The challenge lies in harmonizing aerodynamics and vehicle dynamics to achieve optimization. Every team is engaged in this process. It’s a matter of identifying the possibilities and integrating them into a cohesive package.”
Photo by: Zak Mauger / F1 Flow Images
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about suspension upgrades
Q: What were the complaints from Lewis Hamilton and George Russell about the rear axle of the W14?
A: Lewis Hamilton and George Russell expressed concerns about lacking confidence in the rear axle of the W14 Formula 1 car.
Q: How did Mercedes address the issue of nervous handling?
A: Mercedes implemented an updated front suspension setup as part of its major upgrade package. This adjustment aimed to improve stability and complement the new sidepod concept by enhancing airflow and cooling.
Q: Will the current suspension upgrades have any compromises due to mid-season implementation and cost limitations?
A: Yes, the mid-season introduction of these suspension tweaks and the cost limitations mean that compromises were inevitable in their implementation.
Q: What does Mercedes’ engineering director expect to focus on in the 2024 car?
A: Mercedes’ engineering director anticipates that the focus for the 2024 car will be on developing bespoke suspension systems, particularly at the rear of the vehicle, when the budget cap and aerodynamic testing restrictions reset.
Q: How does Mercedes plan to optimize the integration of aerodynamics and vehicle dynamics?
A: Mercedes aims to identify opportunities and bring together the disciplines of aerodynamics and vehicle dynamics to work as one cohesive package, thereby achieving optimization and improved performance.