Mattia Binotto does not expect any protests in Bahrain, but teams will be asking the FIA for clarification about rivals’ designs.
And on that list are Mercedes’ mirrors.
Mercedes debuted a revised mirror assembly at the Bahrain pre-season test with Ferrari immediately questioning its aerodynamic value.
The Italian said at the time: “Already in the past, we always argued the mirrors should not have any aero purpose. They should be there just to look behind.”
Mercedes’ does more than just look behind, although the FIA’s head of single seater matters Nikolas Tombazis has implied that it okay as the rules around the mirrors to do not state “for the sole purpose of”, meaning they can have more than one job.
Despite Binotto’s concerns about the Mercedes mirror, Ferrari are more likely to ask the FIA to clarify the matter rather than protest the design.
“No, nobody is questioning the legality of the Mercedes solutions, for example the mirror, but I give a simple example,” he told Motorsport.com.
“In 2018 we had fitted mirrors linked to the Halo, a solution that as the regulations were written was legal, but two races later a new technical directive from the FIA forced us to remove them because they would have had a non-incidental aerodynamic influence.
“This is the principle I underline, the FIA has the authority to clarify and I am curious to see how the situation will evolve on this occasion. More than protests, I expect clarification.”
This weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix marks the first race in Formula 1’s new era of ground effect aerodynamics.
Although it was thought given the stringent regulations that Formula 1 would have 20 very similar looking cars, the team’s technical gurus have almost all come up with different solutions.
This is very evident when one compares the Ferrari and the Mercedes’ sidepods, the Scuderia have fat baby baths while Mercedes’ sidepods are so slim they are almost non-existent.
“I was surprised to see so many differences between the cars in terms of geometry,” said Binotto. “We knew there was the flexibility to make different choices, we tried many ourselves, I expected more convergence and was surprised to see so many different solutions. I think that’s good, that’s the beauty of this sport.
Whether Ferrari’s F1-75 will put them in the hunt, the Italian stable impressing in pre-season testing, Binotto says is anyone’s guess right now.
“I think we will be competitive but we cannot say today if we will be two tenths ahead or behind,” he said.
“Red Bull seemed very strong to me, certainly Max. So maybe one (Red Bull) will be in front of us and one behind us, I don’t know.
“But I think we will be at a level where we can compete, and if there is a difference, it will not be insurmountable. Let’s talk of gaps that after 4-5 races can still be filled. The starting point is good, but how good we will discover.”