F1 is gearing up for a rules revolution in 2022, with the sport shifting to all-new ground effect cars which he hopes will improve racing.
The scale of the changes for next season means teams can’t afford to fall behind early in development.
Indeed, the biggest performance milestones will be found during the initial work on the 2022 designs – and catching up with your rivals if you start late will be very difficult.
However, there is an act of juggling to play as teams also have to compensate for the need not to totally sacrifice the current campaign if they are fighting for good positions.
The cars of Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, 1st position, and Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12, 3rd position, at Parc Ferme
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
World champion Mercedes faces a particularly difficult situation as she appears to be locked in a close fight with Red Bull for this year’s championship, so be aware that any early decision to halt work on her current car could cost her a chance to win the title.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has admitted there is no obvious answer on the best time to focus everything in 2022, but he believes all teams will face similar issues.
“It will be the same for all teams to balance the resources that go into the 2021 car and powertrain, and that of 2022,” Wolff told Autosport.
“Clearly you can’t afford not to play in ’21. But also, the regulations of 22 will be in place for several years. Once you start with a deficit it is very difficult to catch up. So it will take some time for the performance to converge.
“In this regard, these are delicate decisions that we evaluate regularly.”
Although Mercedes won the first game of the F1 season in Bahrain, the team admits that rivals Red Bull appear to have the fastest car right now.
Wolff says her team’s feeling right now is not the same as it has been in recent years, where they’ve always been confident they have a solid package.
“It’s different,” he says. “The regulatory changes that were introduced last year, we probably had more deficit to make up. So when we put the cars on the road it was pretty clear. But that is what it is, and now we have to do the job to the best of our ability.