Wolff says Mercedes tested Red Bull’s ‘sidepod concept’ in the wind tunnel

© Sebastian Kawka for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix ltd.

Toto Wolff says Mercedes had Red Bull’s “sidepod concept and the bodywork in the tunnel very early on”, and “the relative loss of the downforce” was “substantial”.

There’s no doubt that Red Bull hit the bullseye back in 2022 with its interpretation of Formula 1’s current rules.

Now, after McLaren’s very successful upgrade made their car look very similar to the Red Bull, many are even more convinced that the way to go forward is to try and adopt the Austrian team’s car concept.

Mercedes on the other hand, developed a concept which is visibly very different from Red Bull’s, especially when it comes to the shape of the sidepods.

Although many suggest Red Bull’s sidepod concept is an important factor in the team’s superior performance, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff is still not convinced.

“The sidepods and the bodywork are just one part of the chassis,” the Austrian said after the British Grand Prix.

“Clearly it looks like very interesting solutions that it opens up, but most of the performance comes through the floor and diffuser.

“And we haven’t seen how [McLaren] interpreted the regulations and how they’ve done it. So in my opinion, it’s just the package.

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“We see that the strong cars all look a little bit the same when you look from the side and from top-down.

“And certainly that has played in our minds already back in the day. But maybe that’s just a little more indication where it goes.”

The Austrian then explained that Mercedes had tried out Red Bull’s sidepod concept very early on in the development of their car, but they chose not to pursue it.

“We had the sidepod concept and the bodywork in the tunnel very early on already to see which avenues it would open up and how much it would add to performance.

“And the relative loss of the downforce, the way we measure it, was substantial. So it’s not something that we wanted to follow up early in the year.

“We changed our design direction, I think we have a great group of aerodynamics led by James [Allison] and I’m sure that it will be a consideration seeing the step they made,” Wolff concluded.

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