Haas team boss Guenther Steiner said that the team looked into employing Mercedes’ extreme sidepod concept in the development of their own car last season.
Mercedes created a sensation when they brought a drastically different vehicle to Bahrain after their maiden pre-season run in Barcelona, with a design that reduced the width of the W13 by narrowing the sidepods in the hopes of gaining more performance.
However, because Haas began creating their 2022 vehicle before any other team, they had more time to experiment with other design routes on their road to building the VF-22, but they thought the Mercedes design wasn’t quite right for them.
“This exact concept was our first design. We had it in the wind tunnel last July, and we already noticed there that it gives advantages in slow corners,” Steiner said.
“But as an overall package, we saw greater potential in wide sidepods.”
As Formula One enters its new era in 2022, design approaches have been drastically different from team to team, with each car appearing to have its own distinct traits.
The legality of the additional elements on the Mercedes was called into question, with Formula One managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn acknowledging that the sport had not expected the reigning Constructors’ champions’ interpretation of the rules.
However, Formula One’s chief technical officer, Pat Symonds, does not see a problem with the design at this time, but will seek counsel.
“It looks fine to me,” he said.
“But for a final verdict, I want to consult with my colleague Jason Somerville [FIA head of aerodynamics] first.”
Christian Horner, the Red Bull team head, initially believed the Mercedes innovation was in violation of the new regulations, but has now admitted the sidepods appear to be permissible.
“What is so good about this sport is you get a clean sheet of paper and you get 10 different interpretations,” Horner told reporters in Bahrain.
“Mercedes have come up with an extreme one that’s a different interpretation but to answer whether we think it’s legal or not, yes, absolutely. It looks like it ticks all the boxes.
“I think it’s interesting. It’s very innovative what Mercedes have come up with. It’s quite a different concept to what we have pursued and certainly some of the others have.”