‘No holy cows’: Toto Wolff says Mercedes will change W14’s sidepods

Mercedes entered the 2022 season with a revolutionary 'zero sidepod' design, something which played a part in the team's porpoising woes.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has revealed that the W14’s sidepods are set to change, with the Brackley-based team currently “looking at solutions” to develop their narrow sidepods.

The Germans were incredibly “bold” by introducing their remarkable ‘zero sidepod’ design at the start of last season, with nothing like it having really been seen before in modern Formula 1.

As incredible as it was in regard to engineering, it did cause the team some issues and played a role in the Silver Arrows porpoising woes.

However, with their sidepod design having not been the sole reason for their bouncing problems, Mercedes have decided to keep the philosophy at least for the start of 2023.

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“It is important to be bold in this sport,” explained Wolff.

“I am proud of the solutions we put into the car last year, it is not fundamentally the reason that we didn’t perform.”

Whilst the sidepod design wasn’t the team’s biggest issue last season, Wolff has revealed that the narrow sidepod concept “will change” in time, with the Austrians having revealed that changes to the sidepods could be introduced this year “with upgrades”.

“There are no holy cows in our concept,” he added.

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“It’s not that we don’t want to follow anybody’s idea.

“We stayed with the narrow sidepod, but you could see developments which could come with upgrades. The sidepods will change – not soon, but we are looking at solutions.

“It is not a core, fundamental part of performance.”

Mercedes really did catch everyone by surprise when they unveiled their sidepod design last season, especially given that they’d initially used a traditional oval design during the official shakedown test at Barcelona.

It wasn’t until Bahrain when they suddenly fitted the ‘zero sidepods’, to the shock of the paddock.

No such surprises are to be expected by Mercedes at pre-season testing this year, with the car that was unveiled at Silverstone being the one that’ll hit the Bahrain International Circuit.

“Last year we learned a tough lesson because we knew that we would bring an upgrade package for test number two that was worth 1.5 seconds,” Wolff said.

“You then look at the first test and think it’s not relevant because it’s not the real car. But we put it on the track and it wasn’t performing at all as we expected.

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“This year, we went the other way around. What you have seen is, in large parts, the car we will test and race.

“It is fundamentally important to understand the platform and how the car behaves, rather than keeping bits in the background that may give a tenth or two in aero performance.

“Like Mike [Elliott – Mercedes technical director] said in the launch, if you want to change a concept completely, then you’re making not one step back, but probably two or three, and that’s why we stayed where we are.”