Mercedes are reported to have made a significant update to their 2022 car that involves a complete lack of any sidepods.
The teams are trying to figure out the best and most efficient way of extracting maximum performance from the cars under the new technical regulations this season as a ground effect-led aerodynamic concept is introduced.
Some of the measures being employed may end up traversing certain loopholes in the regulations, and this is something Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and managing director Ross Brawn have not ruled out when asked about this eventuality.
Following the first pre-season test in Barcelona, a source close to the FIA suggested that some teams are “sailing close to the wind and bringing solutions that do not quite correspond to the spirit of the regulations.”
Reports are now suggesting that the Silver Arrows’ car has undergone radical evolution since the first three days of testing, and this involves an abandonment of sidepods and a subsequent repositioning of the cooling systems.
“It would be a car almost completely devoid of sides, the disappearance of which would have involved an imaginative but effective arrangement of the radiators, in the highest area of the bodywork,” said the report.
It also claimed that the new design had displayed “impressive simulator performances, with already legendary gains.”
Due to the reports suggesting that the FIA are keeping a watchful eye over any transgression’s of the regulations, Mercedes are said to have sought “substantial clarifications before proceeding” with the new concept.
The eight-time constructors’ champions gave a cagey response when asked about the potentially ground-breaking new philosophy.
“Everyone flies to Bahrain with new parts. The biggest upgrades are usually the ones you can see from the outside,” a spokesperson told Corriere dello Sport.
Sky Sports reporter Ted Kravitz recently suggested that there will be aspects of the cars in such an unprecedented new era for the sport that other teams will be taking a closer look at.
“They’ve already started!” he said in a Q&A.
“There are already lots of teams looking at various bits on other cars and going, ‘hang on, I didn’t think we were allowed to do that!’
“Every single thing is going to be objected or even protested.
“That’s the problem for these race directors – these two guys are coming in at a particularly red-hot time for inter-team protests.”
Whether these substantial changes have indeed come to fruition will likely be discovered during the second test in Bahrain, which starts on Thursday.