Mercedes has not yet decided which sidepod concept it will use for 2023

Mercedes has not yet decided which sidepod concept it will use for 2023

At the beginning of the 2022 season, Mercedes impressed everyone with its extreme ‘zero sidepod’ concept, which during the GPs showed not to bring the benefits that the team thought. The team’s engineering director Andrew Shovlin admits that Mercedes has not yet defined the sidepod concept for next season, as the upcoming bylaws change could have a big impact.

Trading airflow over the car for ground-effect aerodynamics, Formula 1 expected to see 20 very similar cars on the grid this year, given how many hours were spent developing the new rules, as Ross Brawn previously commented.

They were able to bring the grid closer together, when the teams adopted three different sidepod concepts.

The Mercedes was the most surprising, with what was called ‘zero sidepod’ as they all went sideways.

It’s a structure that can have a big contribution to the team’s problems, as there is not much to hold on the floor of the car. This meant that the team had to adjust the floor to reduce fraud, and this in turn cost them.

Shovlin said the team has not yet decided what direction it will take heading into 2023. “I think with the rule changes next year, it will change the way people build their cars,” he said.

“You always say the fastest car has the best concept, so, you know, today it’s Red Bull. Where that goes next year is hard to say.”

“Certainly we as a team have not defined the concept of our car. We are still exploring different concepts. This process will continue for some time, but we are looking for something that will give us a good opportunity to develop these new principles going forward,” he said.

However, Red Bull technical director Pierre Waché does not want to claim that Red Bull’s philosophy is the best, but says it is the complete package. “I’m not sure if it’s a better or worse concept,” he said. “I think it’s just part of the puzzle, that kind of sidepod aspect, the invisible part.”

“And certainly, if you develop your car around a certain concept, and then change it, it’s going to be difficult to get the benefit of that. I think you need to be very clear about how you see the car and the car concept for the future. As Andrew mentioned, you know, the rules will change next year,” Waché said.

“I’m not sure that it will all come together on one concept, it’s more how you see the new law, how you try to solve it and what you try to achieve with the concept,” he added.

Being only part or ‘the complete package’, as the director of Red Bull explained, the fact is that the team and its driver, Max Verstappen, have already got the names of constructors and drivers in 2022.