Red Bull team principal clears up his stance on Mercedes’ ‘no sidepod’ design after Thursday confusion over “not legal” quotes; Horner says he is happy the “innovative” and “radical” W13 is in line with F1 rules, but adds that it isn’t clear if the car is quick yet
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 11/03/22 1:07pm
Red Bull boss Christian Horner has called Mercedes’ new F1 car “extreme” but believes it “ticks all the boxes” in terms of legality.
On the first day of the Bahrain pre-season test, Mercedes caught the eye with a much-different concept for their W13, dubbed a ‘no sidepod car’ with its minimalist vertical sidepods either side of the cockpit.
There was confusion later on Thursday as Horner, who had an intense rivalry with the world champions last year, was quoted as telling Auto Motor und Sport that the car was “not legal”. The team principal denied making the comments despite the German publication’s insistence.
In Friday’s press conference, Horner cleared up his stance – and said he was happy the design was legal.
“I think comments have been quoted that certainly weren’t made,” insisted Horner. “The car is obviously innovative, it’s an interesting solution.
“As far as we’re concerned it looks like the Mercedes car complies with the regulations. It’s just a different interpretation, a different solution.”
He added of the concept, which has been debuted in a bid to aid cooling and aerodynamics amid the all-new 2022 regulations: “It looks like it ticks all the boxes.
“I think it’s interesting, it’s very innovative what Mercedes have come up with.
“What’s so good about this sport is you get a clean piece of paper and you get 10 different interpretations.
“Obviously Mercedes have come up with an extreme one that’s a different interpretation.”
The German media also quoted Horner as saying the sidepod design was “against the spirit” of F1’s rules.
But Horner explained on Friday: “There’s not really anything that defines the spirit of the regulations, it either complies or it doesn’t.
“That’s not really for us to judge, the FIA have the access to all of the drawings for a design like that which would have been submitted in advance.
“It’s an interesting concept, it’s a radical concept.”
Horner unsure new Mercedes is fast, tips Ferrari
While they have captured attention this week, Mercedes have yet to post any notable times in their new-look car and say there is still plenty of work to do.
Horner agreed that it wasn’t clear yet if the design was giving them a pace advantage.
“Is it quick or not? Only time will tell,” stated Horner.
“It’s impossible to draw any conclusions other than it looks very different.
“Visually it is quite a departure from the concepts that certainly we’ve taken and a few others have taken. That’s not to say it’s naturally better or worse, it’s just a different interpretation and compromises have been made with their layout to accommodate that.”
Horner also said, as many others have this pre-season, that Ferrari are the team to beat at the start of F1 2022.
“For me, the car that looks most settled on circuit is the Ferrari,” continued the Red Bull boss.
“I think they’ve had a very strong Testing period so far, both in Barcelona and in Bahrain. They’ve looked extremely competitive whenever on track.
“But you have to remember these cars are still very immature, the rate of development will be very fast and intense. Mercedes are going to be a huge factor in this championship, I have no doubt.”