The start of Formula 1‘s new ground-effect era has seen teams experimenting with different designs for their sidepods. Red Bull is among the teams that have adopted a downwash design, while Ferrari has gone with its in-wash bathtub solution and Mercedes has opted for zeropods. However, as teams have gained a better understanding of the current rules and where development potential lies, the downwash idea seems to be prevailing. Both Ferrari and Mercedes have shifted their designs in that direction as part of broader car overhauls, resulting in significant improvements. Despite this convergence, Mercedes‘ technical director, James Allison, believes sidepods are not the key factor in explaining a team’s performance. According to Allison, all designs are effectively trying to replicate the downwash concept, making them not particularly significant in determining a team’s success.
Aston Martin technical director Dan Fallows, on the other hand, acknowledges that while sidepod design may not have a major impact on overall performance compared to other factors like floors, they are still critical to the overall package. Fallows describes sidepods as flow-tuning features that condition the airflow to the rear of the car and improve the functionality of the floor. Aston Martin has embraced the concept of the waterslide variation, which has gained wider adoption across the grid. While the performance improvements from the bodywork alone may not be significant, Fallows emphasizes that it enhances the performance of other components, making it a substantial feature of the car.