Haas indicate Mercedes’ extreme ‘zero pods’ design could be a dud

Haas considered the striking design now being utilised by eight-time constructors' champions Mercedes.

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has revealed that his team had taken the unique “zero pods” now being exploited by Mercedes under consideration last year, but found that wider sidepods would make for a more efficient chassis.

Mercedes rolled into the second pre-season test in Bahrain with extremely thin sidepods on the car to the extent that there were almost none at all.

They installed grills on the sides of the car for aerodynamic cohesion and cooling intake, and with Red Bull boss Christian Horner having initially been reported as saying that the design “violated the spirit of the regulations,” he clarified in a press conference that while his rivals’ design was “extreme,” there was nothing that contravened any laws.

Teams have spent the last couple of years preparing for one of the biggest sets of regulation changes the pinnacle of motorsport has ever seen, and with the return of ground effect necessitating an entirely new approach to the design of an F1 car, Haas spent the majority of 2021 focusing on this year as they toiled at the back of the grid.

While they were conjuring up this year’s car, they stumbled across the idea to almost entirely remove sidepods from their challenger, but in the end they abandoned this philosophy.

“Exactly this concept was our first draft. We had it in the wind tunnel last July and already realised that it brings advantages in slow corners,” Steiner said.

“As an overall package, however, we saw greater potential in wide sidepods.”

Haas put 249 laps on the board between Pietro Fittipaldi, Mick Schumacher and the returning Kevin Magnussen who has been drafted in to replace the sacked Nikita Mazepin amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Schumacher set the overall second quickest lap time of the three days in Sakhir, and McLaren’s Lando Norris has previously suggested that the Banbury squad could find themselves challenging towards the top of the midfield dogfight.

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