ATnd welcome (again) to our coverage for day two of the second and final Formula One pre-season test at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir.
Day one was intriguing, not so much for the lap times and lap counts (I guess testing rarely is unless something goes dramatically wrong, and most teams have avoided that so far), but for the emergence of Mercedes’ new sidepods. Or lackthereof. They were radically different, both to most of the rest of the teams and also to what the team ran in Barcelona two weeks ago.
Here’s Tom Cary from yesterday’s report:
But even by F1 standards, the reshaped W13 is pretty radical. It immediately acquired a new nickname – the “no sidepod” car – because of the way their engineers have managed to shrink the bodywork beside the driver around the car’s cooling requirements. Formula 1’s managing director Ross Brawn admitted the car’s aerodynamics around its sidepods was a “very extreme interpretation of the regulations” and one his technical team had not foreseen.
There are also question marks over the integration of a shaped side-impact structure on which the rear-view mirrors are mounted.
Rival teams immediately cast doubt on the legality of the design.
Red Bull were forced to issue a statement after Christian Horner, the team’s principal, was quoted by Germany’s Auto Motor Und Sport as describing it “illegal”. Red Bull initially described the quotes attributed to Horner as “incorrect”. It is understood Horner was not speaking in an official capacity.
It was Red Bull who drew interest at the first test with their radical-looking sidepods, but Mercedes have well and truly trumped that. Does it give them much performance gain? Who do not know yet, but it is so intriguing and – given the team’s history with radical solutions and generally dominating the championship for nearly a decade… – you would expect it to be a bit of a boost to lap times.
I can’t see the issue going away, so expect much more comment and discussion over the next two days. Day two gets going at 7am GMT, with the first session running until 11am, and then the second session resumes at noon until 4pm.