Mercedes unconvinced by slimline F1 sidepod design
By Mat Coch
Saturday 4th March, 2023 - 9:00pm
Mercedes remains uncertain whether its slimline sidepod design is the best F1 development path but will continue down that path for now.
The squad debuted the concept at the second pre-season test last year, persisting with the solution despite a troubled 2022.
It led many to question the design which left swathes of the floor unsupported.
It was reasoned part of the team’s challenge with porpoising issues was a result of the unsupported floor flexing.
The 2023 Mercedes W14 has continued with the concept.
“For us, it’s how we developed the car last year,” said Mercedes technical director, Mike Elliot began.
“We’ve done a lot of work looking at other types of solutions and we keep coming back to this one. [It] has been the one that favours us.
“Is that the right long-term solution? I guess we’re going to find out.”
This year’s car has not suffered from the porpoising seen last year, though it proved somewhat inconsistent in testing.
Last week, it showed well on the opening day before struggling on Day 2.
Things improved on the final day, with Elliot suggesting conditions on Friday saw the team lose its way.
That was compounded by a hydraulic issue for George Russell which curtailed the squad’s running.
Mercedes brought six updates to the opening round in Bahrain this weekend.
That package includes tweaks to its front and rear wings, nose, floor, front suspension, and sidepod inlet.
New design coming
The squad has a new sidepod solution in train which Elliot suggests will be different to that it currently employs.
“We’ve got a different bodywork coming – it won’t be the same as other people’s and it won’t be the same as what we’ve got but it will be different,” he said.
“It’s just part of the normal development,” he added when asked whether the new design would be a minor revision or a major update.
“We have got a very different sidepod that’s coming in; say very different, a different sidepod that’s coming.
“But it takes time to bring that and it takes time to make the bits, takes time to sort of change the bits that go underneath the bodywork for it to fit, so we’ll bring it as soon as we can.”
Mercedes ended the opening day of running at the Bahrain Grand Prix with Russell only 13th fastest, with Lewis Hamilton five places better off.
A further 60-minute practice session awaits on Saturday, beginning at 14:30 local time (22:20 AEDT).
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