‘Very novel’ Mercedes W13 has ‘a few little tricks’

Jamie Woodhouse
A close-up of the Mercedes W13 sidepod. Bahrain, March 2022.

Mercedes have taken inspiration from aerospace technology for the cooling system on the W13 says F1 chief technical officer Pat Symonds.

It was well-documented that teams were expected to show up for the Bahrain test with plenty of new innovations compared to the car specification they used in Barcelona.

But it was Mercedes who without doubt unveiled the most striking upgrade in the form of a very narrow sidepod solution.

This though raised an obvious question regarding how the W13 would be suitably cooled, but Mercedes came up with a solution that Symonds, who led the design of these new 2022 regulations, had not seen coming.

“This is a very novel approach,” he said in an F1 TV interview with Ted Kravitz.

“I like to see novel interpretations. I have to say it’s not one that I’d expected to see. And I’m still really impressed at how they’re getting the air through to cool the car, but they obviously are.”

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

“I guess it was just a little bit more radical than we thought,” he continued.

“As we developed the aerodynamics of this set of regulations, obviously, we looked at lots of things, not just downforce producing, but we had to look at brake cooling, had to look at tyre heating. And particularly, we had to look at engine cooling.

“And we were using a bigger inlet than that [on the W13] to get the cooling. I think on the Mercedes, they have a few little tricks in there that help them in this respect.

“So for example the intercooler, is a very, very neat device, it’s a water/air intercooler, which of course Mercedes have had for a little while, but I think this is a little bit different.

“And that’s why they can really shrink wrap this car a little bit more than most of the others can.

“The intercooler that I was talking about, I think, comes from Reaction Engines in Oxfordshire, the people who are doing this sort of air breathing rocket motor, and the sort of spin-off from that has been this really extremely efficient heat exchanger technology.

“And I think that’s part of the reason why they’ve been able to produce the car the way they have.”

Naturally, early questions were raised over the legality of Mercedes’ sidepod approach, with F1’s motorsport managing director Ross Brawn calling it a “a very extreme interpretation of the regulations”, though no formal objections have arrived yet.

And Symonds believes that across the grid, teams are trying to trim down the size of the sidepod areas as much as possible.

“I think one of the trends we’re seeing, and it’s not particular to these new regulations, but we’re seeing that it’s very, very difficult to start to package everything into the sidepods,” he said.

“People think what’s in the sidepods, surely it’s only the radiators, the heat exchangers?

“But of course, there’s a lot more, there’s a lot of electronics in there. I think some people are moving that electronics into that keel area.”

 

Nonetheless, Symonds does expect Mercedes’ innovation to trigger teams into revisiting the rule book to see if they missed anything.

“I think it will have got their rivals sort of going back to the rulebook with their red pencil, and seeing just what they’ve done,” Symonds suggested.

 

Mercedes stun paddock with no sidepod W13

Mercedes have stunned the Formula One paddock with their W13 having no sidepods.