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Could the weather expose Mercedes' sidepods in Bahrain?

Mercedes have taken a strikingly different approach to their F1 rivals with the W13's sidepod layout. But could there be unintended consequences? RacingNews365.com technical analyst Paolo Filisetti has given his insight.

Hamilton Bahrain
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

Mercedes raised eyebrows in the F1 paddock when they arrived at last week's Bahrain pre-season test with radical new sidepods.

Amid several interpretations up and down the grid, Mercedes' approach stood out from the crowd, with the updated W13 now featuring much slimmer sidepods, hence the 'sidepod-less' name doing the rounds in the paddock.

In simple terms, Mercedes' revised sidepod design is more vertical in volume than horizontal, essentially creating a 'wall' that is likely to be more affected by crosswinds than the other nine concepts from their rivals.

			© RN365/Michael Potts
	© RN365/Michael Potts
			© RN365/Michael Potts
	© RN365/Michael Potts

F1 simulations cannot predict all problems

According to RacingNews365.com technical analyst Paolo Filisetti, while Mercedes' vertical concept might be extremely effective in a straight line, and through slower corners, there is potential for unintended consequences.

"They will have seen good data in their simulations, so for this reason they have followed the 'sidepod-less' route, but in simulations, you have many limitations compared to reality," commented Filisetti.

"First of all, you are unable to mimic, or simulate, crosswinds – this is a huge limitation to the whole understanding of the concept. Secondly, in the wind tunnel, there is a limit of airflow speed, set to 180 km/h under F1's rules.

"As a result, you can't see the effects at higher speeds, and, for example, it makes simulating porpoising impossible."

The latter point is particularly relevant in Mercedes' case, with the team struggling to prevent Lewis Hamilton and George Russell from bouncing their way down the straights on all three test days in Bahrain.

Will Mercedes suffer in the Bahrain wind?

With strong winds expected at this weekend's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Filisetti reckons Mercedes could face an additional challenge as they attempt to tame their W13 and iron out the issues.

"This concept is not, in my opinion, an all-round solution – it is not perfect in every condition," continued Filisetti.

"It is much more prone to upsetting the overall balance, in terms of aerodynamic shift between front and rear, when there are crosswinds.

"You can - in some conditions - lose the downforce generated by a certain part of the car; it could be the front, or it could be the rear, and this could lead to stability problems for Mercedes."

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