Mercedes claim porpoising ‘masked their real problems’

Mercedes were the only team in 2022 to use 'zero-pods', something which caused shock throughout the paddock following its reveal.

Mercedes technical director Mike Elliot has revealed that the Silver Arrows were “surprised” that no other team had discovered a “loophole” with the new aerodynamic regulations last season, with the Germans having designed the ‘zero sidepods’ as a result of it.

Whilst the Brackley-based team knew that they’d be the only team with a ‘zero-pod’ design on their 2022 challenger, they expected some other outfits to have at least been aware that it was possible to create such a thing.

To their shock, nobody had expected Mercedes to develop such an extravagant sidepod design, which left jaws dropped when it was unveiled at pre-season testing.

Elliot explained that the team were surprised at how amazed their competitors were when they officially unveiled their sidepod design, despite knowing that no other team on the grid would have such a design.

READ: Revealed: Red Bull had to make radical changes to comply with FIA rules

“Not really. We were surprised that no one else found this loophole. When you’ve gone down this path, it’s very hard to copy anything else,” Elliott told Auto Motor und Sport.

The team’s extravagant sidepod design certainly didn’t work in their favour, as they slumped to their lowest result in the Constructors’ Championship since 2012.

Despite their woeful 2022 campaign, though, the team are adamant that their sidepods weren’t the reason why they struggled to keep up with Red Bull and Ferrari, despite their design having caused their horrific porpoising issues.

“We only have a partial view of things,” Elliott said.

Article continues below

“We only see what our car does. It’s difficult to judge how the other concepts react.

“We’ve been trying to understand the issues and get into a position to predict the performance variations from track to track. It has nothing to do with the shape of the sidepods, but more to do with how we designed the car and what our goals were.”

All their woes from 2022, though, have been understood, meaning that their 2023 challenger shouldn’t suffer from the same issues.

With this in mind, the Silver Arrows may return to the front in the upcoming design, with Elliot having revealed that the team now know what to do to ensure 2022 “doesn’t happen to us again”.

“At the beginning of the season we had to deal with aerodynamically generated bouncing like everyone else,” said Elliott.

“That masked the real problems of the car.

READ: Christian Horner teases Sebastian Vettel return to Red Bull

“With our upgrade in Barcelona, we got rid of most of the aero bounce. The bouncing that was still there at the end was caused by bumps. It’s inherent in these cars that are just above the road.

“At first we couldn’t explain why it always looked different from track to track. Later, our predictions became more accurate. Our simulations gave us a pretty accurate indication of which track would be good or bad for us.

“We now also have a good theory of what we need to do so that this doesn’t happen to us again next season. That gives us confidence over the winter. But in Formula 1, unfortunately, you never know everything.”