Mercedes Sidepods Upgrade in Bahrain

During pre-season testing in Bahrain, Mercedes unveiled an upgraded car with no sidepods. This quickly became the talking point of testing season. Mercedes sidepods were a move away from concepts that the rest of the F1 teams applied.

While there were talks of Mercedes bringing an upgrade in Bahrain, a car without sidepods was not expected.

The reactions were coming fast and furious.

It is said that at some point Christian Horner told a German reporter that the concept Mercedes has introduced was ‘illegal’

Reb Bull would later deny he ever made such comments.

This shows you how Mercedes sidepods were received on the paddock.

It is clear that the sidepods concept is going to play a big role in 2022 F1 season.

In this article, I am going to look at the theory as to why Mercedes might have chosen to develop their cars without sidepods.

Mercedes New Sidepod Design in Bahrain

While the design of sidepod that Mercedes brought to testing in Bahrain was new, it had been developed over a long period.

This means the sidepods only missed the first pre-season testing in Barcelona.

It clearly shows that Mercedes F1 team is pushing the envelope when it comes to new innovations.

Probably that comes from being the eight-time constructors’ champions.

Team boss Toto Wolff has this to say about the new sidepods upgrade;

“We are really proud of what we have achieved in terms of concept, but now we need to make it go fast. It’s a development direction that we like and it’s now about tuning the car.

“We’re experimenting a lot and approaching it with curiosity.”

Hamilton’s new partner George Russell also spoke about the eye-catching sidepods.

He was quoted saying;

“We’re experimenting a lot and approaching it with curiosity.”

“It obviously caught quite a few people’s eyes this morning.

“I guess from my side, I’m proud to be part of a team that’s pushing innovation and all this hard work, you know, blood, sweat and tears going into it, seeing something pretty spectacular being pulled off is pretty incredible.

“But it doesn’t matter what it looks like, we need to see if it’s fast on track.”

Role of Sidepods on F1 Car’s Aerodynamics

While there are many parts or elements that determine an F1’s car aerodynamics, sidepods are a key element now.

At Mercedes, they aerodynamic role of their sidepods looks a little bit more complicated.

It is something that Ferrari boss, Mateo Binotto, raised issues with. He was concerned that Mercedes are building a spaceship.

If you compare the Mercedes car at Bahrain with the one at Barcelona, you will notice differences.

Aerodynamic shapes of the sides were revised more in the front. That is when compared to the version the team brought to pre-season testing in Barcelona.

The Coanda Effect

Mercedes was one of the first teams to exacerbate the coanda effect on the bodywork.

So, what is coanda effect? I know this is what you are wondering.

Coanda effect is the phenomena in which a jet flow attaches itself to a nearby surface and remains attached even when the surface curves away from the initial jet direction

For Mercedes, doing this created an air chute that would bring the flow of the upper part towards the upper edge of the floor and the diffuser.

The new sides are trying to exploit this concept, combining less resistance with a super narrow front section of the sidepods.

In the new Bahrain specification, the cooling inlets have an almost inverted shape compared to the past, with a greater width at the bottom, and narrower at the bottom.

Mercedes studied extreme aerodynamic shapes to reduce the drag coefficient, occupying less lateral space for the air, and ensuring a full-bodied flow of air above the floor.

This should also ensure a greater difference in pressure between the air flowing above the floor and the air flowing at high energy in the venturi tunnels.

Mercedes Close to Limit of Regulations

The search for less drag on the sides led Mercedes’ aero team to separate the conical lateral protection structure from the inlet of the radiators.

The anti-crash cone has thus become a wing that generates downwash, while the shape of the inlet also acts as a support for the mirrors.

This aerodynamic choice is very close to the limit of the regulations, and has already created discussions about its alleged irregularity.

What Others Said About the Sidepods

It was expected that Mercedes sidepods would attract attention from others in the paddock.

And they came in pretty fast.

However, the most interesting and controversial were comments attributed to Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner.

Speaking to a German newspaper, Horner is reported to have said that the Mercedes sidepods are illegal.

You can read more about this by following the link below;

Related: Mercedes Sidepod ‘illegal’, Says Christian Horner

In the section below, you will find out what the new technical regulations say about the sidepods on Mercedes F1 cars.

What the rules say about Mercedes sidepods

Conclusion

In conclusion, sidepods are going to play a significant role in the F1 cars this season.

Each team has interpreted the new regulations differently. That is why you find two main concepts of sidepods this year.

Mercedes sidepods are on one extreme, and you can say Ferrari are on the other extreme of largest sidepods on the paddock today.

The rest of the teams are between these two extremes.

As the season progresses, it will be interesting to see how Mercedes sidepods will impact the performance.