The rumours are true…Mercedes have put a W13 without any sidepods on track at the start of the Bahrain test.
This season Formula 1 is running all-new cars and teams are coming up with various solutions to the technical regulations, some more extreme than others.
While last time out in Spain it was Red Bull and their heavily undercut sidepods that caught the eye, this week it is Mercedes’ W13 which basically does not have any sidepods that is creating the headlines.
Where sidepods usually bulge out, the W13’s completely cave in.
F1 journalist Albert Fabrega explained: “Mercedes sidepod cooling inlet is inverted and narrowed. A lot of extraction louvres. Seems they placed intercoolers in a higher position.”
Los no pontones de Mercedes . Queee???
— Albert Fabrega (@AlbertFabrega) March 10, 2022
The cooling system of the car is said to be unchanged, Mercedes instead focusing its efforts on producing a more aerodynamically-efficient bodywork package overall.
The new package is also likely to be lighter than the one run in Spain with Mercedes one of nine teams needing to cut the weight of the car.
Although this year the minimum weight of the cars is 42kgs heavier than last year’s cars, all the team excluding Alfa Romeo are struggling to drop to it.
Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin told Auto Motor und Sport: “This is the most extreme packaging we’ve ever had.”
Former F1 driver turned pundit Martin Brundle gave his assessment to Sky Sports.
“We’ve already seen this morning with the Mercedes, they have a massive new shape,” he said.
“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 dello Sport, Mercedes trialled the design in the wind tunnel and found that showed ‘impressive simulator performances, with already legendary gains’.
There are whispers in the paddock that it could be worth as much as a second.
As such it is said to be ‘disturbing’ the tech gurus at their rival teams while causing ‘more than one team principal to be alarmed’.
With the design so extremely different to their rivals’ cars it has raised questions about the legality of the sidepod-less car.
Mercedes, though, reported sought ”substantial clarifications’ from the FIA before proceeding with the design.
Lewis Hamilton is the first to drive the revised car, the Briton in action on Thursday morning before handing the car over to his team-mate George Russell.
Mercedes stun paddock with no sidepod W13
Mercedes have stunned the Formula One paddock with their W13 having no sidepods.