F1: Will Mercedes tiny sidepods prove lethal to its drivers? (Update)

(GMM) Formula 1 should consider clamping down on Mercedes’-style ‘no sidepod’ innovations for 2023 and beyond.

That is the view of Jan Monchaux, the technical boss at Alfa Romeo.

Mercedes’ radical layout, including a controversial sidepod ‘top’ for the side mirrors that is arguably an aerodynamic wing, has been given the green light for 2022.

How Mercedes gets away with calling the aerodynamic wing that supports the mirrors, a sidepod, is beyond incredible. But Mercedes is F1’s ‘pet’ team as long as Lewis Hamilton is driving for them, so it’s hands-off.

But talks are already underway about how the sport should proceed in the future.

“I don’t think the regulations would allow you to have no cooling in the sidepods at all. That’s not the intention,” Monchaux told Auto Motor und Sport.

“There will definitely be a discussion with the FIA and the teams as to whether we want to allow someone to go that far,” he added.

“That would be a possible next step.”

As for Mercedes’ solution, it appears to have surprised most of the rest of the field but Monchaux is not sure it will “catch on”.

“It obviously works for Mercedes or it wouldn’t be on the car,” he pointed out.

“It’s important to me obviously to understand which concept has the greatest potential for further development – the Mercedes concept, ours, or that of Red Bull or Ferrari.

“No team can know or predict that at the moment. Only time will tell.”

March 12, 2022 

The almost zero sidepods on the revised Mercedes W13 seen in Bahrain this week raises two very concerning issues:

  1. How much protection, if any, do the sidepods offer in a side impact?  Though there are certain FIA crash tests the chassis must undergo, they were never conceived to have to test for the type of sidepod Mercedes have developed. The Mercedes sidepods offer little protection to the driver’s compartment. Typically, the sidepods act as a crumple zone protection for the driver. Now there is little.
  2. If tee-boned by another car, the slope of the side of the car could result in the pointed nose of the car striking the side of the Mercedes to ride up and under the Halo, with the driver’s helmet taking a direct impact.

We certainly hope Mercedes have done adequate crash simulations to ensure the driver’s safety.

Lewis Hamilton. LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd


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