In the more innocent, far-gone days of Spring 2022, sidepod design was a hot-button issue for Formula 1 teams. Constructors adjusting to a new set of aerodynamic regulations saw the ubiquitous extensions of the F1 tub as a crucial element in controlling both drag and under-floor turbulence called porpoising, problems that Mercedes believed it could solve by racing with as little sidepod as possible. After 14 months of struggling to get speed out of their car, that long experiment seems to be over.
Mercedes planned to debut a new package of upgrades for its winless W14 at last weekend’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Imola. When that race was canceled, those plans moved to Monaco. Now, pre-race photos for that event show the new Mercedes sidepod design, one that looks far more traditional than the “zero sidepod” design on the W13 that the team raced with in the W14’s first handful of events. This pairs with what are expected to be a floor and front suspension design more in line with current pace-setters Red Bull.
At Imola, these major changes could have been put to a relevant test immediately. At the slower Monaco, the aerodynamic changes at play are less likely to factor significantly into pace and may not illustrate the car’s full potential on a more traditional track. Mercedes was eventually able to find a win in the W13 with the “zero sidepod” concept, but it came at Brazil after drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell had already been eliminated from title contention. The switch to the winning concept used elsewhere could change that story this year, but the program would need to start winning early and often over the remainder of the season.
Keyword: Mercedes Gives Up, Gives Its F1 Car Sidepods