F1 Managing Director Ross Brawn has weighed in on the appearance of Mercedes' new W13, saying that he had not expected to see such an 'extreme interpretation' of F1's new regulations for 2022.
The Silver Arrows set tongues wagging throughout the paddock with a new 'sidepod-less' version of the W13 for this week's pre-season test in Bahrain, featuring much slimmer sidepods than were seen on the car during last month's test in Barcelona.
Narrow cooling inlets replace the larger, square intakes seen throughout the Barcelona test, with the side mirrors and some additional fins now mounted to 'wings' above where the bulk of the sidepods would normally sit, prompting Brawn to acknowledge that Mercedes' design had not been foreseen.
"It's impossible to anticipate the creative scope of the teams once they get the regulations," Brawn told F1 TV.
"I think there's no doubt the Mercedes concept we didn't anticipate.
"It's a very extreme interpretation of the regulation, and I think there's going to be a lot of debate about their interpretation. That's what happens with new regulations."
Brawn says F1 innovation is "always extreme"
As Team Prinicipal of an outfit that bore his name in 2009, Brawn and his engineers exploited a loophole in that year's regulations to create the so-called double diffuser, with the resulting BGP 001 proving successful enough to win both Drivers' and Constructors' titles that year.
And despite the diversity of appearance seen across different teams so far this year, Brawn added that he currently has no reason to think any designs contravene the new regulations.
"Our initial impressions are that there's nothing here that we will be overly concerned about in terms of the objectives [of the new rules] or the regulations," said Brawn.
"However hard you try to close up all the options - and believe me, we closed off hundreds of them - the innovation in F1 is always extreme.
"It's just fascinating to see such a wide range of solutions."
Video: Are Mercedes playing it safe with the W13 reveal?
Mercedes showed off two different versions of the W13 during their 2022 car launch, with some key differences between the digital and physical models.