Commenting on Mercedes' almost non-existent sides, Formula 1 sports director Ross Brawn admitted that sport did not count on such an extreme interpretation of the rules when they drafted the new rules. Brawn has always pointed out that designs that violate the spirit of regulations aimed at improving the racing ability of cars will be banned, and he repeated this on the first day of pre-season testing in Bahrain where Mercedes appeared with new sidewalls, which attracted a lot of attention.
Mercedes has been following the path of very narrow sidewalls for several years now with retracted side air intakes, but this year they have taken their design to a new level. The sides are almost non-existent, and the side radiators are very narrow and retracted — moved toward the top of the body to further narrow the side of the car.
Brawn pointed out that Mercedes ’design looks impressive. "This is a very extreme interpretation of the rules and I think there will inevitably be a lot of discussion about their interpretation of the rules. That always happens with new rules, no matter how hard we try to close options — and believe me, we've closed a hundred — innovation in F1 is always extreme.
” "From our point of view, the main question is whether this affects the main task of the rules?" The teams want to make sure none of them have interpreted the rules in a way that is wrong. I think there will be a lot of discussion here, "Brawn said.
Brawn on Mercedes
It is too early at the moment to talk about whether Mercedes' extreme sides are at odds with the 'spirit' of the new rules. If other teams think that this will give the German team an advantage in performance, it is possible that the teams will protest and use the argument of the "spirit of the rules"
But this is a delicate issue that F1 and the FIA must address. Brawn pointed out that there will be a lot of discussions about the legality of Mercedes' design. "In the past, we needed the unanimous consent of all teams to change the rules within the season, but now you can make a change with 80% of the teams agreeing, as long as the F1 and FIA also agree."
"Once Mercedes' interpretation of the rules is understood, then we can have a balanced view of the impact of their design. The spirit of the rules is the gray area." "At the end of the day, you have to keep up with the text of the rulebook, but that text can be changed with the consent of 80% of the teams, we can change the wording."
"If we missed something, the teams are aware that something like this can happen. That can happen during the season, we will have to see how this all plays out, "added Brawn.