Brawn weighs up chances of protest over Mercedes W13

Mark Scott
Lewis Hamilton runs the zero pod W13 in testing. Bahrain March 2022

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton runs the zero pod W13 in testing. Bahrain March 2022

Conceding that Formula 1’s think tank “didn’t anticipate” Mercedes’ radical zero pod design, Ross Brawn says there is going to be a “lot of debate” about the car.

Mercedes hit the track in Bahrain on Thursday for the start of the official pre-season test with a W13 that doesn’t feature sidepods.

Instead of the usual outward bulge, the bodywork caves in, and whispers in the paddock claim that design was worth as much as a second in Mercedes’ wind tunnel.

Already it has caught the attention of Mercedes’ 2021 championship rivals, Red Bull, with Christian Horner said to have told Auto Motor und Sport that there are “some parts that are not legal”.

But while Red Bull have denied he said anything official, Brawn reckons it is only a matter of time before rivals do begin to publicly question the car.

“There is no doubt that the Mercedes concept is something we didn’t anticipate,” the F1 managing director said during live television coverage of the Bahrain test.

“It’s a very extreme interpretation of the regulations and inevitably there is going to be a lot of debate.”

Speaking in the build up to Formula 1’s pre-season, Brawn had stated that his think tank did several rounds of “rule-busting” to ensure that there weren’t any loopholes for teams to take advantage of.

He says the FIA will be taking a closer look at the Mercedes design, and most likely be listening to both sides of an argument.

When looking at the Mercedes W13 in the garage, he added: “It’s impressive. I think this is the great thing about innovation in Formula 1.

“[It’s just a case of] keeping it in the boundaries of which are sensible and there are no compromises in terms of the overall objective of what we are trying to achieve with these new cars.

“When teams come up with extreme concepts we shouldn’t penalise it straight way but the FIA will look at everything.

“A team could come in with a perspective that the FIA did not note and that will then be looked at.

“I’ve experienced that problem many times where the FIA thinks something is okay and a team comes in with an argument that has never been considered.


“I’m sure there is going to be a lot of discussion about it but it is impressive. For a set of rules which everyone says is too restrictive, then we have teams coming up with all these different solutions.”