George Russell has admitted there are still question marks to be addressed over Mercedes' intriguing new sidepod design.
The reigning Constructors' World Champions raised eyebrows on the opening morning of the Bahrain test, as they rolled out a radically different Mercedes W13 to the one used in Barcelona testing a fortnight ago.
With the sidepods all but erased, the slimmed down W13 has proven to be the talk of the paddock as Lewis Hamilton headed out on track to begin testing the new machine.
But Russell made moves to downplay the impact of the new design, saying it needs verification on track after only being tested out on the team's simulator.
"Yeah, I guess it looks interesting," he told media, including RacingNews365.com, when asked for his thoughts on the new design.
"But it's not about how it looks, it's about how fast it goes. So I don't really have any more thoughts than that."
New Mercedes sidepods "have caught people's eyes"
As for how Mercedes are hoping to improve the performance of the car with the new design, Russell said addressing the 'porpoising' that many of the teams - including Mercedes - are encountering, will prove more beneficial than anything to do with the sidepods.
"I think, at this stage, for all the teams, it's just trying to improve the downforce and just bring more downforce to the cars," he explained.
development rate is pretty drastic for all the teams, and I think we're
going to see a constant evolution over the course of this season.
"Obviously, these new regulations came in for this season but, if you look up and down the grid at our car, the Red Bull, the Ferrari, even at Williams, there's some pretty drastic differences across all the teams. So I think that's really good to see and what F1's all about.
obviously caught quite a few people's eyes this morning. I guess, from
my side, I'm proud to be part of a team that's pushing innovation, and
all this hard work, blood, sweat, and tears going into seeing something
pretty spectacular being pulled off is pretty incredible.
"But as I said, it doesn't matter what it looks like – we need to see if it's fast on the track."
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When did Mercedes decide on the design departure?
Russell was also asked about the timeline of the development, and when he was told that the W13 would be fundamentally changed between the two tests.
"We're always kept in the loop but, as drivers, we are curious what's coming and if it is a performance gain and, if so, how much?" he said.
"But, ultimately, when you're sat in the car, you don't see what is around and you just get on with it. It's the same in the simulator when you try these things. They're just numbers programmed into a computer, and away you go.
"So we really need to validate if it's working as we expect. But, for now, I'd say the biggest thing is just getting on top of the bouncing as opposed to this new package. I think that's where the most performance will be, if teams get on top of that."
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.