Mercedes debuted a major upgrade package at the Monaco Grand Prix that featured new-look sidepods as the team finally abandoned their controversial ‘zeropod’ design.

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The sidepods on the heavily-revised W14 are now closer in resemblance to a more conventional sidepod philosophy, similar to the one first pioneered by Red Bull. 

Mercedes had their best race of the season at the Spanish Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton and Russell securing a double podium behind Max Verstappen, who continued Red Bull’s 100 percent winning start to 2023. 

After the Barcelona race, Russell implied that Verstappen would have still been able to win by 24 seconds even if the RB19 turned up with no sidepods. 

“I’m sure Red Bull could put no sidepods on their car and still be the quickest,” Russell told Sky. 

“It's a little bit more complex than that but nevertheless, really happy with the work the team have done and the validation that the steps we’ve made are steps in the right direction.”

Russell’s comment came after he downplayed a direct link between Mercedes’ resurgence in Spain and their new sidepods. 

Asked why the team had not changed philosophies earlier, the Briton replied: “It’s not the sidepods what make the difference. It may be a factor, but the magic isn’t in the sidepods.

“We brought that design to the car to kind of rule it out, the sidepods. The magic was done underneath the car, on the floor. That’s the same for every single team.”