With the reintroduction of ground-effects in 2022, Red Bull (with their downwash design), Ferrari (utilizing in-wash), and Mercedes (adopting size-zero) all exhibited strikingly different sidepod designs.
Red Bull’s ascension as the leading team provoked speculation that sidepods were the primary component in car performance. Consequently, Mercedes faced queries regarding why it had not sooner adopted a design similar to Red Bull’s to enhance its performance.
However, with engineering estimates suggesting that only 40% of a car’s aerodynamic potential comes from top surfaces and the remaining from underfloor aerodynamics, Russell came to Mercedes’ defense. He refuted the notion that their recent upswing in performance at Barcelona was solely attributable to the sidepods.
Responding to Sky Sports F1’s query about the delay in changing the team’s aerodynamic philosophy, the third-place finisher stated, “It’s not the sidepods that make the difference. They might contribute, but the real key isn’t in the sidepods.
“We implemented that design to exclude it as the defining factor. The true game-changer was under the car, on the floor. This holds true for all teams.”
In the aftermath of the Emilia Romagna GP cancellation due to flooding, Mercedes introduced its first substantial upgrade package of the season in Monaco. The W14 received new bodywork, an updated floor, and a revised front suspension arrangement.
Additional alterations were debuted in Spain, with the most prominent modification being to the diffuser.
Russell humorously claimed that Max Verstappen, the clear winner of the Spanish GP, would have still clinched the race by a 24-second margin even if his RB19 lacked sidepods.
He added, “Surely Red Bull could omit the sidepods from their car and still come out on top. It’s a bit more intricate than that, but nonetheless, I’m really pleased with the team’s work and the confirmation that our improvements are steps in the right direction.”
Even though Russell recognized Verstappen’s commanding lead, he remarked that Mercedes’ recent advances have their sights set on victory.
He confidently expressed, “We were certain of making progress [in Barcelona]. The race pace was notably strong this weekend, thanks to the updates.
“We checked all the right boxes. The car was swift, made good overtakes – it was truly a thrilling race.”
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about sidepod designs
What are sidepod designs and how do they impact car performance in Formula 1?
Sidepod designs in Formula 1 refer to the aerodynamic structures located on the sides of the car. They play a crucial role in managing airflow around the car and cooling various components. Different designs can significantly influence the overall performance of the car by affecting its aerodynamic efficiency and balance.
Why did Mercedes not adopt a sidepod design similar to Red Bull’s earlier?
Mercedes engineers explain that while sidepods are important, their recent success in Spain was not solely due to sidepod changes. They emphasize that the real breakthrough came from improvements made under the car, particularly in the form of underfloor aerodynamics. Mercedes opted to rule out sidepods as the main factor and focused on optimizing the aerodynamics beneath the car instead.
What upgrades did Mercedes bring to improve their performance?
Mercedes introduced a major upgrade package in Monaco, including new bodywork, a revised floor, and changes to the front suspension configuration. Further modifications, notably to the diffuser, were made in Spain to enhance their car’s performance.
Did the sidepod designs have a significant impact on the race results?
While sidepod designs can contribute to overall performance, George Russell of Mercedes suggests that even without sidepods, Red Bull could have still been the quickest in the Spanish Grand Prix. He highlights the complexity of car performance and asserts that the true magic lies in optimizing underfloor aerodynamics, which is crucial for every team.
How confident is Mercedes about their recent progress and chances of victory?
Despite acknowledging Max Verstappen’s dominance, George Russell expresses confidence in Mercedes’ recent advancements. He believes their strong race pace, thanks to the updates, demonstrates the team’s ability to move forward. While victory remains the ultimate goal, Russell emphasizes the importance of continuous improvement and maintaining a positive mindset in each race.