Red Bull reveal Mercedes fear after seeing zero-pod concept come to life

Sam Cooper
Mercedes during pre-season testing.

The initial design that would prove to give Mercedes a lot of trouble.

It was not just fans and the media wondering if Mercedes had pulled off a masterstroke with a Red Bull team member revealing his thoughts as they unveiled their 2022 car design.

The name W13 is one that has probably been outlawed in the halls of Mercedes’ Brackley HQ but, at the time it was unveiled, there were plenty of people who wondered if we were in for another year of Silver Arrows dominance.

Given their performance for the past eight seasons, plenty backed the Mercedes design to be quick but as we all well know now, that proved to be incorrect.

Bold Mercedes design caught the attention of Red Bull

When Mercedes first unveiled their bold design at pre-season testing, there were many who wondered if they had done it again including, it seems, rival teams.

Calum Nicholas is a senior power unit assembly technician and operator of the right rear wheel gun for Red Bull and admitted he was concerned when he first saw the W13.

“I remember first seeing that Mercedes car and thinking ‘they’ve done it, again, they found something that no one else has found,'” he told the Sky Sports F1 podcast.

“And then you talk to our own designers and engineers and they’re like ‘no, no, we’re happy, we’re happy with where we are’ and they sort of put your mind at ease a little bit.”

Nicholas had every right to feel at ease. While the RB18 was not the quickest at the start of the season, it soon surpassed the benchmark set by Ferrari and would go on to win both championships. Mercedes meanwhile found porpoising to be the bane of their existence and for the first time since 2013, were no longer one of the top teams.

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“Obviously until the times start coming in and the race results, you’re never sure,” Nicholas continued. “And then the beginning of this year, it was sort of, I guess, a little bit of relief, that you’d seen that a lot of the teams had started to follow the path that we were already following.

“That gives you a bit more confidence to say ‘okay, we were on the right path, we’re fine. We can keep building from here and keep building.’

“So during testing, you do look at other teams, but you take it all with a bit of a pinch of salt, because you know that nobody’s going to be out there showing their true pace. Obviously, if teams have a really bad testing with reliability and things like that, then obviously you pay attention to that because reliability is reliability. You can either run the car or you can’t.

“But in terms of outright pace, I don’t think you look at other competitors in testing and say ‘ah, this is worrying me or whatever’ I think you have to wait until you get into that first race weekend and when everyone’s cards are actually on the table.”

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