F1 rumours: Radical Mercedes W13 with no sidepods?

Michelle Foster
George Russell up close in the Mercedes W13 in testing. Barcelona February 2022

Mercedes driver George Russell up close in the W13 in testing. Barcelona February 2022

Mercedes are said to be arriving at the Sakhir circuit with a W13 that doesn’t have any sidepods whatsoever, and their rivals are worried.

That’s according to a report in Corriere dello Sport.

Debuting their all-new cars last month in Formula 1’s group shakedown at the Circuit de Catalunya there were several different sidepod designs on display.

While Ferrari went with a baby bath and louvred sidepod tops, the Red Bull RB18 features a dramatic undercut. Alfa Romeo’s had a bit of both.

As for Mercedes, they opted for a multi-geometry surface before the reigning Constructors’ Champions then trialled louvred sidepods during the opening test.

For Bahrain, though, they are reportedly expected to arrive with a car that doesn’t have any sidepods.

According to Corriere dello Sport, the sidepods are ‘gone’ after Mercedes’ tests in the simulator showed a ‘monstrous’ upturn in the performance.

‘It would be a car almost completely devoid of sides, the disappearance of which would have involved an imaginative but effective arrangement of the radiators, in the highest area of the bodywork,’ read the report.

The sidepod-less design has shown ‘impressive simulator performances, with already legendary gains’.

And it is said to be ‘disturbing’ the tech gurus at their rival teams while causing ‘more than one team principal to be alarmed’.

But whether it will lead to a protest should Mercedes run the design at the Bahrain Grand Prix remains to be seen with the Brackley squad having said to have asked for ‘substantial clarifications before proceeding’ with the design.

Over at Mercedes, they are being coy about the upgraded package.

A spokesman for the team told Auto Motor und Sport: “Everyone flies to Bahrain with new parts. The biggest upgrades are usually the ones you can see from the outside.”

Sky Sport’s Ted Kravitz reckons this week could see a barrage of protests, or at least questions, being put before the FIA and its new race directors.


“There are already lots of teams looking at various bits on other cars and going, ‘hang on, I didn’t think we were allowed to do that!’

“Every single thing is going to be objected or even protested.

“That’s the problem for these race directors – these two guys are coming in at a particularly red-hot time for inter-team protests.”


Radical Mercedes W13 with no sidepods?

If the rumours are true, Mercedes will be running a drastic new sidepod-less design in the Bahrain pre-season tests.