Mercedes rivals in panic mode as Lewis Hamilton set to debut radical W13 design in Bahrain

Lewis Hamilton refuses to let 2021 season ‘define’ his career

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While Mercedes seemingly left plenty in the tank at testing in Barcelona, this week’s test in Bahrain could reportedly be groundbreaking. F1 pre-season testing results are always taken with a pinch of salt, but the 2022 regulations have meant that every team has adopted their own approach for the new season.

McLaren and Ferrari both impressed in Barcelona, but there were more questions than answers about the potential performance of Red Bull and Mercedes.

One aspect of the RB18 which Mercedes were particularly interested In following the Barcelona test was the sidepods on Max Verstappen’s car.

Red Bull’s sidepods were significantly raised and undercut compared to every other F1 car on the track.

And Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott admitted that the Silver Arrows would “have a think” about implementing their own interpretation of the regulations in place for the sidepods.

JUST IN: Mercedes working on ‘legendary’ W13 upgrade for Hamilton and Russell

“The most visually different I think are the sidepods that Red Bull Racing have come up with,” Elliott said. “Looks interesting, so we’ll go and have a think about that.”

The Bahrain test gets underway on Thursday where most cars are expected to look drastically different from just a few weeks ago.

And all eyes will seemingly be on Mercedes with Italian publication Corriere Dello Sport claiming the W13 is already causing some controversy.

Incredibly, it is said that Mercedes’ car will have no sidepods whatsoever after simulator runs showed a ‘monstrous’ increase in performance.

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The radiators on the side of car have reportedly been rearranged to fit into the highest area of the bodywork.

The performance of Mercedes’ upgrades on the W13 have seemingly trickled down to rival teams as well.

And the aerodynamic sections of those teams are said to be ‘disturbed’ and ‘alarmed’ by the results of the W13.

Mercedes have supposedly asked for ‘substantial clarification’ from the FIA on their plan to run the sidepod-less design in Bahrain.

But there is some suggestion that Mercedes’ radical upgrade will result in several protests from rival team bosses.

F1 managing director Ross Brawn has admitted that officials will be expecting protests on unique interpretations of the new regulations in place.

However, Brawn believes the changes brought in are strong enough for there not to be too much deviation between designs.

“There’s no guarantee something will occur we haven’t anticipated. I think if it is going to occur, someone will likely spring it on Formula 1,” he said.

“I don’t think that will be the case. The regulations are pretty robust but you can never say never.

“That’s part of the reason why the governance has changed, and it has not changed in order to be able to change the rules at short notice.

“It [governance] has changed because the teams know you can change the rules at short notice so they’re far more likely to want to be comfortable with their ideas before they release them.”

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