BARCELONA, Spain -- Ferrari has unveiled the most creative use of Formula One's Halo device so far, having mounted its rear-view mirrors on the structure.
The Spanish Grand Prix is traditionally the first opportunity for Formula One's European-based teams to introduce significant upgrades after four races in the southern hemisphere. Much of the intrigue so far this week has been around Ferrari's decision to place its mirrors on the side of the Halo along with an extra winglet.
Ahead of the last race in Baku, the FIA clarified the rules around the safety device -- controversially made mandatory for the 2018 season -- to confirm mirrors could be fitted in this fashion in order to improve visibility for drivers. Despite the Halo being introduced primarily for safety reasons, it shows how F1 teams are constantly looking to find performance gains, however marginal they may be, from every part of their race cars.
The FIA is keen to ensure Halo-mounted mirrors do not become a major development battleground in 2018.
Speaking in Barcelona on Thursday, the FIA's head of F1 technical matters Nikolas Tombazis said: "Mirrors are nasty aerodynamic shapes and teams will ideally want not to have any mirrors at all but clears there is a regulation which requires mirrors in certain positions and certain visibility. I'm sure that one team that comes forward and says we want to mount it here it is because they feel it will have a little bit of aerodynamic aid, we have no doubt about that, that includes Halo mounting too.
"It is our responsibility that we make it specific enough with rules in the future which make sure the mirrors achieve their real function to be able to see at the back and to stop them being used for aerodynamic purposes. If there is a big structure in the middle of the air teams will always worry about it so it is our responsibility to regulate it properly."
McLaren also turned heads in the paddock by introducing a radical front wing and nose concept. The new nose features a prominent addition underneath, as well as a thin slot along the sides.
Long-suffering McLaren driver Fernando Alonso has warned against expecting too much from the new package but the team is under pressure to deliver after failing to make Q3 at any of the opening four races. Despite its lack of one-lap pace, the team has fared better in race trim and currently sits fourth in the constructors' championship, largely on the back of Alonso's consistent top-ten finishes.
Elsewhere at the front, there has been a lot of interest in Red Bull's upgrade package. The team will hope a significant on-track improvement can distract the media from the ongoing talk around the collision between its drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and propel it back into championship contention.
"Hopefully we can close the gap a bit more," Verstappen said when asked about the new parts. "Even a better racing car but also in qualifying to be even a little bit closer I think that would be great. But we have to wait and see what the other teams bring as well.
"For sure you will see a little bit better step, especially on Saturday, in qualifying we hope to make that step and specially if it's very positive here then for sure it will be very good for Monaco as well."
Reigning world champion Mercedes has also brought new parts to Barcelona, with an upgraded floor and front wing.