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For the final pre-season test in Bahrain, Mercedes completely overhauled its mirror setup as part of the sidepod revamp of the W13.
Rivals questioned what Mercedes had done, as they suggested that some elements of the mirrors were being used for aerodynamic benefit – something which they are not supposed to under F1’s technical regulations.
The matter was discussed at a meeting of F1’s Technical Advisory Committee this week, and it is understood that there was wide agreement that the Mercedes design did comply with the wording of the current rules.
However, Ferrari thinks that the FIA should look into the matter in more detail and potentially issue a technical directive to further advise teams about what is and is not allowed.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said the situation is similar to what happened to his team in 2018 when it ran mirrors on its halo for aero benefit, but they had to be removed after a few races following an FIA intervention.
“No one is questioning the legality of Mercedes solutions,” said Binotto. “But in 2018, we mounted mirrors connected to the halo, a solution that was legal as it was written in the regulations. However, two races after, a new technical directive from the FIA forced us to remove them because they would have had a non-accidental aerodynamic influence.
“This is the principle that I emphasise. The FIA has the authority to clarify, and I am curious to see how the situation will evolve on this occasion. More than appeals, I expect clarification.”
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal, Ferrari Photo by: Ferrari
Binotto says that key for teams to understand is how aggressive they can make the mirror solution to help deliver an aerodynamic benefit in helping better manage airflow.
Under the current regulations, any aerodynamic benefit from bodywork around the mirror should only be ‘incidental’ to their primary purpose of acting as a support.
Binotto added: “The FIA has always made it clear that the support for the mirrors must have only a structural function, and if it involves an aerodynamic influence it must only be ‘incidental’.
“If this has been the principle emphasised by the FIA in the past, I believe it must be the same today and in the future. There is no reason to change your mind today.
“Regarding the support of the mirrors, in the past the FIA has sent technical directives underlining the basic concept.
“I believe that certain solutions seen on these cars do not have an incidental influence but have a clear aerodynamic purpose, so I believe they are contrary to what the FIA has indicated in the past.”
Asked if Ferrari would directly push the FIA for a clarification, Binotto said: “It is not an easy discussion. It involves the 10 teams, plus the FIA and Formula 1 – so 12 different realities.
“Each team will try to bring water to their own mill. The discussion has already begun, but I don’t know yet what decisions will be made.”