With the second round of F1 testing beginning in Bahrain today, Mercedes have confirmed rumours that its cars will not be running traditional sidepods. In fact, the side of the car is concave. F1 journalist Albert Fabrega had the following to say:
“Mercedes sidepod cooling inlet is inverted and narrowed. A lot of extraction louvres. Seems they placed intercoolers in a higher position.”
While according to reports the majority of the cooling system is at least the same, the body will give huge aerodynamic improvements over its competitors. And thanks to the reduced amount of bodywork, it’s likely to lower the overall weight of the car as Mercedes, and every other team apart from Alfa Romeo, battle to do this.
Los no pontones de Mercedes . Queee???
— Albert Fabrega (@AlbertFabrega) March 10, 2022
Andrew Shovlin, the track-side engineer at Mercedes, told Auto Motor und Sport the following:
“This is the most extreme packaging we’ve ever had.”
Martin Brundle also commented on the new design:
“We’ve already seen this morning with the Mercedes, they have a massive new shape.
“It looks like a bar of chocolate has been left out in the sun and melted, such is the bodywork wrapping around what must be a very creative cooling system on the car.
“When we look at all ten teams, how they’ve interpreted the new rules are quite dramatically different which is a nice change. These three days are critical, an accident or a major reliability issue will hold the team back for the opening part of the season.”
According to Corriere, Mercedes Will Bring a completely different Car in Bahrain, with almost no sidepods. IT MAY BE WELL OVER A SECOND FASTER. pic.twitter.com/bf5iqxbYeE
— mercedes.f1motorsports (@MF1motorsports) March 8, 2022
Corriere dello Sport has told us that this design showed “impressive simulator performances, with already legendary gains” on the wind tunnel, and there are rumours that this could take a second off of lap times.
It will be no surprise if other teams begin to question this, with some such as Red Bull likely lodging a complaint on the legality of such changes.