New regulations for next year’s cars have led many teams to abandon development work on their current cars in an attempt to ensure that they will not be behind at the start of a new era in the top flight.
With the regulation in its relative infancy, teams have no illusions that the harder they try now, the greater the advantage they can have when the cars are released.
While neglecting the development of current cars is an easy option for teams that are lower in the rankings, that has posed some headaches for Mercedes as it is locked in a tight fight with Red Bull for the Formula 1 championship.
The German house knows that sacrificing the improvement potential of its current car will make it more difficult to beat its rival for the rest of the season.
This situation is especially amplified as Red Bull has been aggressive in choosing to continue working on improving its current RB16B. The Austrian house has regularly brought updates to its car for each race, and that has helped it deliver a car that has outperformed Mercedes on several occasions.
Even if Mercedes fully accept the disadvantages that you may face in the second half of the campaign due to your decision, Wolff is convinced that ultimately not putting in more resources in 2021 is the right decision in terms of the team’s long-term potential.
The Austrian manager believes that any team that continues to put considerable effort into their current cars will pay a price next year.
“You have to look at 2022 as well,” Wolff told Motorsport.com. “Because unless you have some magic wand, you will have a deficit next year.”
“So I think most teams have stopped development for 2021. But if they keep pushing for 2021, that’s certainly going to give them an advantage (this year).”
“Although Red Bull is aware of the possible implications of its plan for 2022, the team leader, Christian Horner, has said on several occasions that he believes that they will not be at a disadvantage next year after his decision to maintain the momentum in the development of this campaign.
“You have to go week by week, race by race and I think the team is doing a great job balancing the challenges of this year and next,” he explained recently when talking about the possibility of not risking his job for next year.
“It’s nothing new. A lot is being done right now, but we’ve had big regulatory changes in the past, so you have to balance your resources and apply them to what is most needed. I think the team is working incredibly well and effectively”.