Adrian Newey: “I didn’t see the Mercedes sidepod solution coming”

© Jiri Krenek for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Red Bull’s Technical Director Adrian Newey says “the broad differences in sidepod shape” between teams did not surprise him, but Mercedes’ ‘zero sidepod’ solution did.

The 2022 Formula 1 rule changes required the teams to design their cars basically from scratch, so it was a bit of an unknown what they would reveal at pre-season testing.

Red Bull’s tech guru Adrian Newey says he didn’t anticipate Mercedes’ almost non-existent sidepods, when they were revealed at the Bahrain test.

“I do enjoy reg changes but when I first saw these regs I was quite depressed by them,” Newey told The Race.

“At first sight, they appear to be very prescriptive. But as you dig into it more then, particularly in the area of the sidepod and floor, there’s actually a reasonable degree of freedom. More than you first think.

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“The chassis is near enough designed for you by the regulations, the front wing quite prescriptive. Front and rear suspension, although there is some prescription on the angles, in terms of layout there’s still some freedom.

“As we got into it and realised that, then I’m not surprised there’s been a reasonable diversity of shapes.

“I certainly didn’t see the Mercedes sidepod solution coming. The other cars, the broad differences in sidepod shape have not completely surprised me.”

Mercedes’ sidepods, however, have not helped the team be more competitive, as they have been battling heavy porpoising since the Bahrain test.

Newey gives his thoughts on this phenomenon, which almost every team is experiencing.

“We knew [porpoising] was a potential problem. The LMP cars had it for a very long time. It’s a very well-known problem.

“If you have an aero map which as you get closer to the ground generates more downforce eventually the flow structure breaks down and loses downforce, then it’s going to porpoise.

“With these regs you could see that was a possibility but whether they would and how you model that, was the difficulty.

“It was a bit of using experience as to what the causes of porpoising might be and trying to be mindful of that but at the same time we didn’t find a way of modelling it properly.

“In principle, you could do it in the windtunnel,” the Briton concluded.

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