Have Mercedes got a secret weapon for Bahrain?

Have Mercedes got a secret weapon for Bahrain?Mercedes finished Formula 1 testing in Barcelona fastest of all, but it seems that it not enough for the World Champions, as it seems they are planning to bring a totally different W13 to Bahrain’s official pre-season test.

That is the claim of Corriere della Sera, who are reporting that Mercedes have found a way to make do without sidepods on they car, or as they say: “The belly is gone.”

The Italian publication is reporting that the Mercedes technical team lead by James Allison, may have found an innovative way to mount the W13’s radiators, that will result in the car having no sidepods.

The report reads: “It would be a car almost completely devoid of sides, the disappearance of which would have involved an imaginative but effective arrangement of the radiators, in the highest area of ​​the bodywork,” and goes on to claim that the team is backing the approach up with “impressive simulator performances” and gains in speed up to one second.

Helmut Marko jumps on the bandwagon

Red Bull’s Helmut Marko – whose team has come up with an innovative car themselves in the form of the RB18 – is jumping on the bandwagon.

The Austrian told Auto Motor und Sport: “Everyone will fly to Bahrain with new parts. In the first few races everyone will be full of energy.”

Marko acknowledges the rumors regarding Mercedes’ upgrade package for Bahrain, adding: “We would be happy if we could achieve 70 percent of what comes from Mercedes. Your package should be massive.”

A Mercedes source was quoted by the same publications as saying: “The biggest upgrades are usually the ones that you can’t tell from the outside.”

So will the other F1 teams have a reason to worry about the alleged Mercedes upgrade? Will it’s legality be contested with the FIA and Formula 1? And most importantly, what might Mercedes be up to?

Grandprix247’s tech guru Mark Kay gave his opinion about the Mercedes upgrade rumor, and said: “If the rumors are true it would seem like a huge risk to me. In 2022 F1 has been forced into risk adverse development behaviors.

“Given the diminishing resources afforded the most successful teams in accordance with the handicapping intent of the new regime regulations, Mercedes would need to be very sure that it was a path worthy of empirical verification if the whispers were true, because the penalty of not being so will be very detrimental to their development budget balance for the rest of the year.

Mercedes need to be very sure about their development path

“Even though I haven’t had much time to consider the implications of the rumored Mercedes solution, the obvious benefits would be associated with reduced drag bodywork, the potential ability to position weight closer to the cars center line, and quite possibly the freeing up of space to be able to innovate rear suspension and rear floor work,” Mark explains.

“Obviously though, if the sidepods were narrowed, or even omitted completely, there would still be the need for cooling system components, and the logical solution then would be for them to be positioned higher up.

“One of the benefits of a more orthodox positioning of the cooling system is that the weight can be kept lower down and positioned more symmetrically about the car’s center line. By having to locate coolant filled radiators higher up and potentially in a more concentrated position it might not necessarily be optimal for suspension load distribution, and inertia moments.

“Nevertheless, irrespective of the benefits or disadvantages, as I understand it, Liberty and the FIA have quite clearly reserved the right to alter the regulations if and when a team comes up with an innovation that is such an advantage that it contravenes the intent of the new regulations, which is a closer and more diverse competition,” Grandprix247’s Tech expert concluded.

Bahrain’s official pre-season test kicks off on Thursday, March 10, and will be held over three days, when all will be revealed regarding the teams’ upgraded cars, and especially Mercedes’ W13.