Bahrain test: Ex-F1 driver denies Mercedes are ‘in denial’

Mercedes have retained their revolutionary sidepod design for 2023, despite the issues it created last season.

Whilst the times are somewhat irrelevant in pre-season testing, double World Champion Max Verstappen picked up from where he left off last season, after topping the morning session in Bahrain on the opening day of pre-season.

Thursday morning was the first time that Red Bull’s actual 2023 car had been properly seen, with the Austrians having kept their RB19 very much hidden until the green light was shown.

Red Bull looked good in the morning session, as did Mercedes, who’ve certainly got a lot of work to do to be amongst Ferrari and Red Bull next week.

To the relief of the Germans, though, it does look like they’ve overcome their porpoising issue, with some exposed wires connected to the steering wheel having been used to measure any vibrations.

READ: Helmut Marko makes Ferrari engine claim ahead of Bahrain testing

Mercedes have retained the same ‘zero-sidepod’ design for 2023, with the hope being that they will reap the rewards this season for retaining the philosophy.

Ex-F1 driver Anthony Davidson, though, suggested that whilst they’ve kept the same sidepod design, they may actually have adapted a different philosophy for 2023.

“I wouldn’t say they’re in denial,” said Davidson.

“Perhaps there’s a bit of going in the wrong direction of last year but lessons were learnt and just because the sidepods are the same and the car looks similar, it doesn’t mean it fundamentally has the same philosophy.

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“I know things have changed in their approach. They do have a new ride height for this season and they’re trying to mimic Red Bull and Ferrari… in their own way.”

Veteran reporter Ted Kravitz added on Davidson’s comments, with the reporter admitting that the Silver Arrows have “10 months of development” to catch up on.

The issue for Mercedes, though, is that Ferrari and Red Bull have also made improvements over the winter break, meaning the Germans must work even harder.

“Mercedes have to be one of the biggest stories of the winter because they’ve got such a long way to make up, nine, 10 months of development after last year’s car didn’t work out,” Kravitz told Sky Sports.

READ: Nigel Mansell announces disappointing news

“The car looks good so far, none of the bouncing we saw last year but they’ll know more after today.

“Red Bull haven’t stood still, there is definitely a family resemblance from last year’s car but I have spotted a new rear wing and there’s a new floor of course, while it’s based on a new lighter weight chassis. Immediately, they’ve got a few tenths, maybe even half a second, out of a lighter chassis itself.

“This Red Bull was developed before their aerodynamic penalties were applied but those will bite later on in the season. So Red Bull need to get their shots in early, while maybe Ferrari can catch up once the season gets going.”