It was only a matter of time before another team took a second look at their sidepods after the arrival of a brand new Mercedes in the pitlane on Thursday.
Who better than their closest competitors from 2021, Red Bull, whose garage was well under wraps this morning as the team made very specific updates to the car before Perez hit the track.
Nearly two hours into the session, the RB18 emerged from the garage with some new ‘sculpted’ sidepods – completely different compared to what we’ve seen during the first two days.
It seems the changes benefitted the new-look car to no end as Perez went straight to the top of the timesheet with a 1:34.733.
A short time later, Perez posted another fastest time on the board – marking a significant improvement from his Red Bull.
He completed a lap in 1:33.105 to set the fastest time seen so far in Bahrain and was more than 0.8s clear of Zhou in second.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner spoke to Sky Sports F1 about the changes, and said: “It’s a constant evolution… we’ve obviously got a few new parts this morning and we’re evaluating,” he says.
“Sergio seems to be happy with the characteristics of the car. But it’s so hard to draw any real conclusions, all you can do is focus on your own programme.
“It seems to be behaving as we hoped for.”
The changes come just days after Mercedes arrived in Bahrain with a brand new car – and virtually ‘no sidepods.’
The Brackley-based team had the pitlane talking on Thursday after turning up with brand new machinery
The team’s ‘out of the box’ design has sidepods that are nearly invisible on the completely different W13 car.
There had been suggestions leaving Barcelona a few weeks ago that the Brackley-based team would be applying several upgrades to the car, and today’s sighting prove that.
The new design also includes fins on the side of the car to improve airflow.
At the time, Chrisitan Horner told Sky Sports F1: “I haven’t paid a great deal of attention to the Mercedes.
“It’s obviously a fairly different concept, but that’s for the designer guys and aerodynamicists to get into.”