Mercedes sidepods are ‘extreme but legal’, says Red Bull chief Horner

Hamilton and Mercedes are using a bold new car for the final leg of pre-season testing in Bahrain ahead of next week’s season opener in the country.

The new design, which has virtually non-existent sidepods to improve downforce and make the car faster, turned heads in the F1 paddock and sparked controversy.

In an interview with German publication Auto Motor und Sport on Thursday, Horner reportedly said: “From our point of view, Mercedes has gone too far.

“This does not correspond to the spirit of the regulations. For us, these wings are illegal.

Red Bull chief Christian Horner says Mercedes pontoons are ‘extreme’ but appear legal

/ Getty Images

But speaking 24 hours later, Horner denied ever suggesting Mercedes broke the rules.

“Comments were quoted that were definitely not made,” Horner said. “Obviously Mercedes came up with an extreme and different interpretation, but to answer whether we think it’s legal or not – yes, absolutely. It looks like it ticks all the boxes.

“As far as we are concerned, the Mercedes car appears to be in compliance with the regulations.”

Horner’s comments came ahead of the afternoon session of the second day of testing in Bahrain, with Red Bull and Mercedes putting their car on the right track.

The morning session was filled with drama as Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car caught fire and Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin broke down.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz set the fastest lap time on day two of testing in Bahrain

/ Reuters

The afternoon was less dramatic, although Lando Norris had problems with his McLaren when it stopped on the track. McLaren had already had brake problems on Friday, while Daniel Ricciardo also missed practice on the second consecutive day through illness.

Esteban Ocon in the Alpine also had trouble and he stopped at turn 13 before being forced out of his car after the red flag was waved. There was a third and final red flag at the very end of the session due to a problem with one of the Aston Martins.

However, it was a good session for Ferrari as Carlos Sainz set the fastest lap time. Reigning world champion Max Verstappen also had a strong race, finishing second with Lance Stroll third. Hamilton finished fourth fastest of the day.

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