F1 Testing: Mercedes attract attention in Bahrain with radical ‘no sidepod’ design on new-look car

Mercedes’ innovative new W13 breaks cover in final Bahrain pre-season test with car featuring minimalist sidepods and fins on the side; Martin Brundle: “It looks like a bar of chocolate has been left out in the sun and melted.”

Last Updated: 10/03/22 9:09 am

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Lewis Hamilton takes to the track in his new-look Mercedes as the Bahrain test begins.

Lewis Hamilton takes to the track in his new-look Mercedes as the Bahrain test begins.

Mercedes’ have captured the attention up and down the pit-lane at the final Bahrain F1 test with a radical ‘no sidepod’ design on their dramatically different W13 car.

Though Mercedes unveiled a fairly unadventurous car for the first three days of pre-season running in Barcelona last month, there had been speculation that they were planning aggressive upgrades for Bahrain ahead of the first race.

And that proved correct on Thursday morning as a new-look W13 broke cover, featuring minimalist sidepods – so tiny they are barely visible – and fins on the side of the car to improve airflow.

  Mercedes new 'sidepod-less' W13 car broke cover on Thursday morning

Mercedes new ‘sidepod-less’ W13 car broke cover on Thursday morning

Another look at the new-look Mercedes

Another look at the new-look Mercedes

“It looks like a bar of chocolate has been left out in the sun and melted,” said Sky F1’s Martin Brundle.

Ted Kravitz added: “This has captured the attention of everybody in Formula 1 this morning.

“If Barcelona was just the starter, this Mercedes is the big main course …. this is essentially a new car for the eight-time champions Mercedes.”

There were quotes circulating later on Thursday, attributed to German media, that Red Bull boss Christian Horner had protested that there were parts on the car which were “not legal”.

However, Red Bull later issued a statement: “Christian Horner has not given any interviews regarding Mercedes’ car. Any quotes being attributed to him this morning are incorrect”.

  The Mercedes in Bahrain (left) compared to the Mercedes from Barcelona (right)

The Mercedes in Bahrain (left) compared to the Mercedes from Barcelona (right)

The Mercedes in Bahrain (above) compared to the Mercedes from Barcelona (below)

The Mercedes in Bahrain (above) compared to the Mercedes from Barcelona (below)

Hamilton was in the car on Thursday morning, with Mercedes aiming to steal a march on their rivals following the 2022 rules refresh ahead of the first race, also in Bahrain and just over a week away.

Sidepods are used in F1 to guide air inside cars to provide cooling for the engine, but Mercedes’ bold sidepod design has been debuted to maximise that effect – while it should also help aerodynamics.

“It’s to accelerate the air as much as you can around the area on top of the diffuser, in order to make that ground effect absolutely as powerful as possible to push the car to the ground,” explained Ted.

  Lewis Hamilton locks up during the opening morning of the final F1 test

Lewis Hamilton locks up during the opening morning of the final F1 test

Red Bull were also expected to bring a new-look car to Bahrain, although their RB18 featured few noticeable differences compared to in Barcelona where admittedly their challenger was more updated than the Merc.

“I’m sure Red Bull are thinking, what is the benefit of that compared to ours?” said Ted. “Do we have to worry about this?”

Follow F1 Testing live on Sky Sports F1

You can watch the second and final pre-season test all live on Sky Sports F1 from Thursday as Formula 1 2022 ramps up with three days of action in Bahrain.

With coverage starting early morning on March 10 and running through to Saturday, Sky F1 will be the place to be to watch the eight hours of live track action from each day – plus a nightly Ted’s Testing Notebook.

Sky F1’s Martin Brundle, David Croft, Ted Kravitz, Anthony Davidson Rachel Brookes and new arrival Naomi Schiff will be out in Bahrain to help tell the story of each day’s track running and all the big stories of pre-season.

Former W Series driver and Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador Naomi Schiff joins the Sky F1 team, co-presenting the new 'Any Driven Monday' show.

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Former W Series driver and Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador Naomi Schiff joins the Sky F1 team, co-presenting the new ‘Any Driven Monday’ show.

Former W Series driver and Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador Naomi Schiff joins the Sky F1 team, co-presenting the new ‘Any Driven Monday’ show.

Former W Series driver and Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador Naomi Schiff joins the Sky F1 team, co-presenting the new ‘Any Driven Monday’ show.

In addition to the Sky F1 channel, subscribers can also watch the live action on their mobile by logging in with their Sky iD on the Sky Sports App.

The Sky Sports website and app will be the place for the live digital blog with updates, timesheets and free-to-view video clips of key incidents and interviews, while there will also be updates on Sky Sports News.

You can also follow the latest updates via the Sky F1 social channels.

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