LEWIS HAMILTON’S new Mercedes F1 car is at the centre of a paddock row as his rivals were left dumbstruck by the radical design.
Mercedes unveiled the updated version of their challenger for 2022 – featuring cut-down sidepods creating a sleek design.
Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes has attracted plenty of interest in Bahrain at pre season testing.
Hamilton’s new Mercedes during F1 testing in BahrainCredit: Getty
Red Bull boss Christian Horner was quoted by a German publication questioning whether the design was legal.
The team later issued a statement: “Christian Horner has not given any interviews regarding Mercedes’ car. Any quotes being attributed to him this morning are incorrect.”
However, the publication insisted their quotes from Horner were right, prompting Red Bull to clarify their remark by stating no official comment had been made.
Horner and Merc boss Toto Wolff have a long history of questioning the legality of each other’s cars with previous focus being on engines and front and rear wings.
Horner later distanced himself from the comments saying: “I was slightly surprised to be reading comments that I’m supposed to have been making but there we go.
“To be honest with you, I haven’t paid a great deal of attention to it [the Mercedes]. It’s obviously a fairly different concept but that’s for the aero guys and designers to get into.”
Formula One’s managing director Ross Brawn, who come up with this year’s rule book, said he was caught out by the Mercedes design.
He said: “Some of the solutions honestly we never anticipated, and I think we will go back and investigate those solutions and make sure they maintain the objectives of the new rules.
“I think they do. Our initial impressions are there’s nothing here we would be overly concerned about in terms of those objectives of the regulations, so it’s just fascinating to see a wide range of solutions.
“There’s no doubt that the Mercedes concept, we didn’t anticipate. It’s a very extreme interpretation of the regulation.
“I think there’s going to be, inevitably, a lot of debate about their interpretation and that’s what happens with new regs.
“From our perspective, it’s largely about does it affect the objective of the regs?
“But for the teams, they want to be sure no one has taken an interpretation they don’t feel is correct, so I think there’s going to be a lot of debate in the next few days.”
While Horner was being coy on what he said – or didn’t say about the Mercedes, world champion Max Verstappen says he has “no concerns”.
Speaking at the test in Bahrain, he said: “No, I’m not concerned. We can only focus on ourselves.
“I said this so many times last year, and we have to do it again this year, even if the cars look a bit different.
“There are so many unknown things, what we need to learn about, so I’m not worried at all.”