Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott says that Red Bull’s new sidepods this year have caught his eye, and they are something he will look into.
Red Bull turned up to the first pre-season testing in Barcelona with a very different sidepod design to what we saw on the stripped back car they displayed during their unveiling, and Sir Lewis Hamilton took a particularly keen interest in what they had been getting up to on day one when he was seen snooping around their garage.
The technical regulations in Formula 1 have radically changed this season as ground effect returns, leading to a vast reduction in aerodynamic efficiency.
Elliott admits that he has not personally been paying close attention to other cars as he looks to work through the Silver Arrows’ own issues, but he acknowledges that the sidepods on the RB18 are of interest.
“To be perfectly honest, I have not spent an awful lot of time looking at the other cars,” he said, as per F1.com.
“We have just been trying to fix our own issues. The guys in the factory are doing more of that.
“The most visual different thing is the sidepod that Red Bull have come up with. [It] looks interesting – we will go away and have a think about that.”
As well as the aerodynamics, the tyres have increased to 18 inches in size and the engines have lost around 20 horsepower owing to a new fuel blend in a set of changes that are the biggest many an experienced head in the paddock has ever seen.
Elliott notes that teams are adopting different methodologies as they look to capitalise on the all-new design concept.
“I guess there are different concepts. In terms of what is happening with these regulations, we completely change the way of managing the wheel wake,” he explained.
“That was done to make it better for overtaking, that we couldn’t over-optimise and control the tyre flows, and then for that to break down behind another car.
“And different teams have taken different approaches to that: some teams have gone for these big wide bodywork, trying to control the tyre wake that way.
“We’ve gone for a narrower solution, and we’ve packaged the car to be able to do that.”
The Briton predicts that evolution on the new cars will be quick, and an ability to adapt philosophies will be important.
“The reality is the cars will evolve a lot between now and race one and you will see different solutions come along,” he added.
“In terms of the details of what the aerodynamics are doing, it is probably all to do with controlling that front tyre wake.”
New Mercedes driver George Russell agrees that development on the ever-changing new cars will be the key to success.
“I think we’ll see some changes come Bahrain, and throughout the season,” he added.
“I’m sure the development slope is going to be pretty rapid for everyone. Whoever can get on top of that the quickest and most efficiently will be the ones on top come the end of the season.”
Mercedes are in search of their ninth consecutive Constructors’ Championship in 2022, but the general consensus is that they will face stiffer competition from Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren this season.