Former F1 champion Damon Hill is suspicious of the design that Mercedes have clung onto since the past season and is continuing to use in the W14. He feels that the team's major issues underlie this concept.
Mercedes have had yet another disappointing result after the race in Bahrain despite the performance that the W14 was expected to deliver. There has been a lot of speculation about the cause of the same, and a lot of blame has been put on the sidepod design that the team has adapted, the 'zero pod.'
After the regulation changes in 2022, the team came up with this concept, which was different from almost the entire grid, and still is. However, the low performance that the team is facing has been associated with it. Damon Hill also feels that there is some issue with the design, as he said on the F1 Nation podcast,
"But the underlying problem has been this fundamental car design. They all say sidepods are not the issue, but their sidepods look totally different to everyone else, apart from Williams."
Damon Hill compares Mercedes design concept to rival teams
The Mercedes W14 was the slowest car among the top teams in Bahrain. So much so that Fernando Alonso did not have many issues overtaking both their drivers to grab the podium. While this is certainly worrying, Hill spoke about the design concept that other teams are using in comparison to the Brackley-based team.
He stated how both their competitors, Ferrari and Red Bull, have used a very different concept, even Aston Martin. But Mercedes have stuck with the 'zero pods' concept, which doesn't seem to bring them much competitiveness. Hence, he feels that it is 'fundamentally wrong.'
"You look at the Aston Martin and it's Red Bull sidepods plus, or even Ferrari plus, these other cars have gone in a completely different direction with that. And Mercedes have still gone for this zero sides concept. So you can't help feeling that there is something fundamentally wrong with that idea."
The team has started looking into the matter of the performance of the car. Toto Wolff, their team principal, described Bahrain as 'one of his worst days of racing'. He added that there will be visible changes in the car later in the season, pointing towards a probable change in the design concept.
Given Wolff's claims, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell could be hopeful of a more competitive car ahead of the race in Jeddah.