Mercedes reveal why they won’t copy Red Bull’s sidepods

Mercedes opted for a revolutionary 'no sidepod' design for 2022, but they won't necessarily be sticking with it next year.

Mercedes’ head of trackside engineering, Andrew Shovlin, has admitted that Red Bull have the ‘best’ sidepod design this season; however, he expects that to change next season following another rule adjustment.

Red Bull have been completely dominant this season; the Austrian side have claimed 12 victories and have amounted an uncatchable 139-point lead in the Constructors’ Championship over Ferrari.

Max Verstappen is also on the verge of retaining his Drivers’ Championship, with the Dutchman currently boasting a 116-point lead over Charles Leclerc with just six races remaining.

Mercedes sit third in the Constructors’ standings, 35 points behind Ferrari, after a disappointing year.

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The Silver Arrows have been playing catch-up for almost the entire season, after their radical aerodynamic design appeared to play a large role in their concerning porpoising issue.

Mercedes opted for a revolutionary approach to their sidepods this season, after shocking the world with their ‘no sidepod’ sidepods.

Mercedes design is extraordinary, especially given how much air is needed to flow through the car in order to keep the power unit cool.

Whilst it is without a shadow of a doubt an incredible engineering achievement, it does seem to have caused more issues than the traditional design.

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Porpoising was a huge problem for the German team at the start of the year, as they had to prioritise fixing the issue over developing their car.

Their sidepod design appears to be the cause of the issue, giving Mercedes an even bigger problem going into 2023; do they keep their current design or go back to a more traditional approach.

According to Shovlin, the team is yet to make a decision on that question.

“I think the rules do change for next year, that’s going to change how people are looking at developing their car,” Shovlin said.

“You’d always say that the fastest car is the one that’s got the best concept, so, you know, today that’s going to be Red Bull. Where that goes into next year it’s difficult to say.

“Certainly we, as a team, have not fixed what our car is going to look like. We’re still exploring different concepts.

“That process will go on for some time, but we’re just looking for what will give us the best development opportunity in those new regulations going forward.”

Red Bull’s technical director Pierre Waché thinks it’s too soon to call the Austrian team’s design the “best”, with it simply being “one part of the puzzle”.

“I am not sure it’s the best or worst concept,” Waché said.

“I think it is just one part of the puzzle, this kind of sidepod aspect, the invisible part.

“And for sure if you develop your car around a certain concept, if you change it, it will be difficult to find the benefit of it.

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“I think you have to be very open minded on how you see the car and the concept of the car for the future. As Andrew mentioned, you know, the rules are changing next year.

“I’m not sure that everybody will converge to one, it’s more how you see the new rules, how you try to sort out and what you try to achieve with a concept.

“It’s one part of it. And then how make the floor around the car, the sidepod, after a certain level, how to try to fix or try to direct the flow.”