Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes that his team may have an advantage over reigning champions Red Bull owing to their reduced wind tunnel development time this season.
Red Bull was dealt a blow of a $7 million financial penalty and perhaps more importantly, a 10 per cent time reduction on its wind tunnel development after it was confirmed that the team had overspent on its budget in 2021.
To compound matters for Red Bull, they were anyway offered lesser aerodynamic testing time owing to the fact that they were winners last season.
Mercedes has enjoyed dominance for the best part of the turbo-hybrid era and Wolff is no stranger to just how detrimental such penalties can be in the larger scheme of things.
The cost cap penalty is an additional problem that Red Bull will have to deal with this season and Wolff believes it might have tipped the scales in favour of Mercedes.
“I think [Red Bull have] done a very good job last year, and having a car out there that is half a second or more quicker than everybody else,” Wolff said.
“I think that the lack of wind tunnel time is certainly not great for them, [and it could be] an advantage for us this season.”
Wolff confident Red Bull has devised plan
However, Wolff was under no illusions that Red Bull would have found a method to maximise its existing resources.
“If you have an efficient machine, you can certainly compensate for that, or large parts of it,” he said.
“So, long-term, [it’s] good for us. But we’ve been in that situation – obviously without the penalty – in the years before [when] we won, and therefore we had less wind tunnel time than everybody else for the last few seasons.
“It’s going to certainly bite them a bit. But if they are efficient as an organisation, which they’ve demonstrated, it’s not going to be big.”