F1 Testing: Mercedes convinced new car is legal as Max Verstappen has say on W13 sidepod design

Toto Wolff defended Mercedes’ car design after confusion over whether Red Bull team principal Christian Horner had questioned the legality of the new-look W13; watch all three days of testing from Bahrain live on Sky Sports F1

Last Updated: 10/03/22 2:08 pm

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Craig Slater updates us on Mercedes’ new slim sidepod design and whether the new design is legal after its first appearance at the Bahrain Test

Craig Slater updates us on Mercedes’ new slim sidepod design and whether the new design is legal after its first appearance at the Bahrain Test

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says he is confident his team’s new car complies with F1’s regulations and has urged the sport’s bosses to handle any complaints over the design within the “spirit of the sport”.

The radical ‘no sidepod’ look on the W13 raised eyebrows on the opening morning of the final testing in Bahrain, with the world champions opting for a much-different design than all of their 2022 rivals.

Although Red Bull denied making an “official comment” on Mercedes’ car, team boss Christian Horner was quoted as having told German publication Auto Motor und Sport that the car was against the “spirit” of the rules while also questioning its legality.

F1 chief Ross Brawn, meanwhile, admitted he didn’t anticipate Mercedes’ new sidepods and that it would cause a “lot of debate” in the paddock.

Lewis Hamilton takes to the track in his radical new-look Mercedes at Bahrain pre-season testing.

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Lewis Hamilton takes to the track in his radical new-look Mercedes at Bahrain pre-season testing.

Lewis Hamilton takes to the track in his radical new-look Mercedes at Bahrain pre-season testing.

But speaking after the Thursday morning session, Wolff insisted that the car had been developed amid consultation with the FIA, leaving him confident it did not break any of the drastic new regulations.

“The process is very clear,” Wolff said. “When you go in a specific development direction, having the FIA ​​a part of scrutinising it – you are exchanging data and you’re making them part of the process.

“It’s clear that sometimes when you come with an innovation it creates the kind of debate that we’re having here. That’s why that was expected.”

The new-look W13 car is radically different to what Mercedes unveiled in Barcelona, ​​featuring minimalist sidepods in Bahrain – so tiny they are barely visible – and fins on the side of the car to improve airflow.

Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn says he didn't anticipate Mercedes' interpretation of the new car design rules.

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Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn says he didn’t anticipate Mercedes’ interpretation of the new car design rules.

Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn says he didn’t anticipate Mercedes’ interpretation of the new car design rules.

However, a new feature for the 2022 season is that if eight of the ten teams agree that changes should made to the rules, a team could be forced to change their design even if it complied with FIA regulations.

“We have the new governance with the super majority that’s needed,” Wolff added.

“My opinion is that I would have preferred to stay with the old system, that if a team comes up with an innovation, you possibly can’t take it off the car if it’s compliant with the regulations.

“The FIA ​​and F1 will for sure handle it with diligence and in the spirit of the sport. We were keen on not running alone with it, but being in touch with the FIA ​​also, and that’s why I think it will be ok.”

Explaining the Horner confusion | Verstappen ‘not concerned’ by Merc

Horner was claimed to have told Auto Motor und Sport on Thursday morning: “The new Mercedes violates the spirit of the regulations. For us there are some parts that are not legal.”

But Red Bull issued two statements, first claiming Horner had not “given any interviews” before then saying he had made no “official comment”.

Horner then told Sky Sports F1: “I was slightly surprised to be reading comments I’m supposed to have been making, but there we go.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner was tight-lipped on the issue of Mercedes' radical 'no sidepod' design on their new car.

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner was tight-lipped on the issue of Mercedes’ radical ‘no sidepod’ design on their new car.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner was tight-lipped on the issue of Mercedes’ radical ‘no sidepod’ design on their new car.

“I haven’t paid a great deal of attention to [the Mercedes]. It’s obviously a fairly different concept, but that’s for the designer guys and aerodynamicists to get into. “

Also speaking after the morning session, Red Bull’s reigning world champion Max Verstappen said he was not worried about the Mercedes.

“I’m not concerned,” Verstappen said. “We can only focus on ourselves, I said this so many times last year and that’s what we’ve got to do again this year.

“Even if the car looks different, there are so many unknown things still that we need to learn about. So I’m not worried at all.”

Ferrari: No issues with ‘great’ Mercedes car

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said that he didn’t see how other teams could “argue” with the Mercedes design, given it had been developed in consultation with the FIA.

Ferrari, as was the case in Barcelona, ​​finished the first session of the week at the top of the standings, thanks to Charles Leclerc’s 1: 34.531 lap time.

Charles Leclerc improves on his fastest time to lead the timesheets in the morning session on day one of the Bahrain test.

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Charles Leclerc improves on his fastest time to lead the timesheets in the morning session on day one of the Bahrain test.

Charles Leclerc improves on his fastest time to lead the timesheets in the morning session on day one of the Bahrain test.

“Looking at the Mercedes car, there’s no doubt it’s a great car,” Binotto said. “I think that should not be a surprise to us. It’s a great car, a good concept – quite different to the one we’ve got.

“I think it’s interesting, certainly the cooling layers, radiator positioning and the sidepods.

“On the legality, overall I don’t think that we can argue. As Toto said, it has gone through a process and the FIA ​​certainly is the one that responsible for policing and making sure it’s fully legal. I would be surprised if Mercedes doing something illegal as well. “

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