Red Bull‘s stronghold over the Formula One race victories, as it heads to Hungary this weekend, is acknowledged by even their nearest rivals. Despite significant enhancements to their cars, both Mercedes and Ferrari confess they are lagging behind the Milton Keynes-based squad.
While the upgrade efforts by Mercedes and Ferrari reflect significant progress, their abilities to make substantial modifications to their cars are constrained by budget limitations. The consensus between the two teams suggests that without these financial restrictions, they would have developed larger-scale adjustments to close in on Red Bull.
Concerning the limitations posed by the budget on the 2023 developments, Fred Vasseur, Ferrari‘s team principal, specified “The main driver of this is the cost cap, that you can’t do a new project as was probably the case a couple of years ago. You have to adapt your project to the situation and in these conditions, I think we did a decent step forward. The regulation is much more prescriptive than before and it’s quite difficult to do a big step into the season. But we are, as everybody, already working on the project of next year, trying to correct the direction.”
Following suit with Vasseur’s thoughts, Toto Wolff, Mercedes Team boss, expressed, “I share Fred’s opinion. The cost cap is a real constraint now. Because you cannot just go for a B-spec car. Lewis [Hamilton] and George [Russell] have been pretty vocal about what they would want to change in the car and that’s simply not possible because we are lacking the financial corridor. And that’s why we’re looking very much at next year to change these things.”
While possibilities for changes remain limited this season, there’s more headroom for audacious amendments to the set up for 2024 with the reset of cost cap figures. Although Wolff has clarified a ‘more fundamental car revision’ is planned for 2024, he stressed that the team does not plan on deserting efforts for this season.
In a recollection of a conversation with Niki Lauda, Wolff said “When I asked Niki, many years ago, what do you want to concentrate on: this year’s championship and win it or next year’s? He would say ‘both.’ So, I think it’s always continuing to develop those cars is important for our understanding. At the same time, you mustn’t waste resource when you go to a, let’s say, different layout of car next year. So, it’s balancing it out. But I guess that many teams are already quite a large chunk of development into next year.”