Ferrari sports director Laurent Mekies assumes that the Formula 1 teams will bring fewer developments in 2022 than in previous years due to the budget limit. By this he means above all the years before 2021, because in the past season the teams were economical with their developments anyway, as a large part of the focus was on the new 2022 regulations.
“In 2018 and 2019 the big teams had something new on their cars for every race – or almost every race,” says Mekies. But that will definitely change: “From our point of view, it is difficult to have a large number of upgrades with all the restrictions.”
The budget limit will drop again in the 2022 season: while it was $ 145 million in the first year of its introduction in 2021, this year it is only $ 140 million. This means that the teams have to pay more attention to their expenses.
This applies above all to the big racing teams Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, which have already reduced their spending considerably and also had to downsize their teams.
It will be difficult for all teams because the new regulations mean that everyone starts from scratch and nobody knows what the balance of power will be and what developments there will be: “You still need a development budget this year,” says Mekies. “You will learn more and more, so you need ways to adapt. That is the greatest challenge.
For the best teams, it is even more difficult that, due to the handicap system introduced in 2021, they have less aerodynamic development available than the competition.
According to Mekies, once the first package has been determined in each department, it will be possible to say how many development steps will be taken. “And then you will structure your plans accordingly,” said the Ferrari director. “And how big the challenge is depends on how competitive you are compared to the others.”
If, for example, you discover a lot of problems during the winter tests that you have to solve quickly, then you have to dig into the development pot ahead of time and sacrifice some planned updates during the season.
“If you have a big problem at the beginning of the year and nothing goes together, then you may have to invest some money from the second or third development package,” says Mekies. “You have to fix it anyway, so you take your parts and toss them in the trash.”
With images from Motorsport Images.