Last season, most F1 teams halted any development push on their 2021 cars early in an attempt to get a head start on this year’s brand new technical regulations.
While 2021 was an outlier in this regard, Mekies believes the sport’s budget cap will still limit in-season developments from pre-2020 levels, as financial restrictions put in place to make F1 more sustainable will reduce the number. updates that teams can afford to pump up.
“Not compared to this year, because this year was obviously close to zero, or at least for us it was very little, but if you go back to 2019, 2018, we think you’ll see less,” Mekies said. .
“In 2018, 2019, in the big teams you had something every race on the car or every other race.
“From our point of view, it seems difficult to have a high number of updates with the constraints that we have.”
The cost cap, which was lowered to a base figure of $ 140 million this year – excluding add-ons – means F1’s biggest teams had to be more disciplined about where and when to spend the budget than they did. they had planned for the developments.
This luxury issue particularly affects Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, teams that have already had to drastically reduce their workforce to meet the budget cap.
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21
Photo by: Ferrari
“You have to keep a budget to develop over the year, because you will learn more and more, and therefore you will need the means to adapt. That has been the biggest challenge,” explained Mekies, whose Ferrari team finished third in the 2021 constructors’ championship.
“Once you define that envelope, this is what you have for aero development, this is what you have for mechanical development, then it goes to every department and aero will say, ‘OK with that, I could do two developments or three developments ”, then you reprogram all your plans to feed that.
“This is indeed what we are doing now. The challenge this represents depends on your level of competitiveness compared to others.”
But Mekies warns that if 2022 preseason testing reveals several issues with new cars that need to be addressed quickly, fixing those issues could mean teams may have to dip into their development pot sooner than expected and sacrifice. some updates during the season.
“If you have a big problem at the start of the year and nothing correlates and so on, you can invest some of the money in your package two or your package three,” Mekies added. “You have to fix it anyway now, so you take your parts, you put them in the trash, and that’s how you’ll deal with them.”