Ever since Mercedes revealed the radical new redesign of their 2022 challenger, on the first day of the Bahrain pre-season test, everybody inside the Formula 1 paddock has been discussing their innovative solutions.
While Red Bull has already stirred some controversy when Christian Horner allegedly said (and then denied he said) that his team considers Mercedes’ car to be illegal, Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto doesn’t believe Mercedes’ innovations are against the rules.
Ferrari has called for Formula 1 to prevent teams from starting to design “mirrors that look like spaceships” as he expressed his “surprise” at the aerodynamics of the mirrors on the Mercedes W13.
Mercedes’ innovative streamlined sidepod design is the talk of the F1 paddock as the second 2022 pre-season test gets underway in Bahrain.
When asked about the legality of the sidepods, Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto praised his rival’s concept but instead highlighted an issue with a different part of the car.
“Looking at the Mercedes, no doubt it’s a great car,” Binotto said.
“Not a surprise to us, great car, good concept, quite different look to the one we’ve got. Cooling layout, positioning. And sidepods, again, something looking quite interesting.
“On the legality overall, I would be surprised if Mercedes is doing something illegal. So that’s not the point.
“On the mirrors, I’m more surprised, I find that quite surprising, something we’re not expecting.
“In the spirit of that, something for the future that needs to be addressed.
“Already in the past, we said the mirrors should have no aero purpose. They should be there just to look behind and I think the way that they design the cars has a significant aero purpose in the mirrors.
“[It’s] something that we need to stop for the future no doubt, because the risk that we will come and all the teams will start designing mirrors that look like spaceships. I don’t think that’s what we’re looking for as F1.
“They’ve [Mercedes] had their own reasoning, and found a solution that is very interesting, but I think in the spirit of what intend to do, certainly for the future, something that can be discussed.”
The whole Mercedes mirror housing now rests on the reduced-width upper side impact structure, with small vertical strakes within the bounding box allowed by the regulations. It is not the only team making use of this area, with AlphaTauri among the others, and the intention will be to manage the air coming off the top of the wishbones and tyres.
Mercedes Toto Wolff proclaimed he was “really proud” of what Mercedes had done with its sidepod design and said it’s now about “tuning the car, so we’re experimenting a lot and we’ll approach it with curiosity”.
Wolff and the team is acutely aware of the potential for its sidepod design to be outlawed if it becomes too successful this year.
Under recent governing changes, only an 80% majority of teams have to agree to a rule change along with F1 and the FIA.
“First of all, it’s clear that sometimes when you come with an innovation it creates the kind of debate that we’re having here and that was expected,” Wolff said.
“We have the new governance with the super majority that’s needed and my opinion is that I’d have preferred to stay with the old system [unilateral support from all teams].
“If a team comes up with an innovation, you can’t take it off the car if it’s compliant with the regulations.
“The FIA/F1 will handle it with diligence in the spirit of the sport. We were keen on not running alone with that, and we’ve been in touch with the FIA and that’s why I think it will be OK.”
Williams boss Jost Capito and AlphaTauri’s Franz Tost said they’d let the FIA decide if it was legal.
Mercedes, it’s a great car – Binotto said Mercedes, it’s a great car – Binotto said
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HIGHLIGHTS EPRIX 1 – DE VRIES WINS WET VALENCIA
|F1 PRE-SEASON TESTING 2023|
|Date||Morning Session||Afternoon Session|
|Day 1||23rd February||8:00am – 12:00pm||1:00pm – 5:00pm|
|Day 2||24th February||8:00am – 12:00pm||1:00pm – 5:00pm|
|Day 3||25th February||8:00am – 12:00pm||1:00pm – 5:00pm|
|2023 F1 Car Launches|
|Red Bull||RB19||03 February|
|Alfa Romeo||C43||07 February|
|Aston Martin||AMR23||13 February|
|Bahrain 2023||05 Mar|
|14:30 - 15:30||Free practice 1|
|18:00 - 19:00||Free practice 2|
|15:00 - 16:00||Free practice 3|
|18:00 - 19:00||Qualifying|
|18:00 - 20:00||Race|
|Bahrain||57 laps||308.238 km|
|2023 F1 Calendar|
|3||Australian||Albert P||2nd Apr.|
|4||Azerbaijan||Baku City||30th Apr.|
|5||Miami||Baku City||7th May|
|Drivers Standings 2023|