Toto Wolff: Red Bull’s reduced aero-development time ‘can have an effect’ on Mercedes bridging the gap

Mercedes have been given a boost to their chances by Red Bull's 10% reduced aero-development time, but Toto Wolff isn't completely sure if they can 'utilise' it.

Mercedes' team principal Toto Wolff
Mercedes' team principal Toto Wolff

Red Bull have, by and large, dominated 2022. They were challenged before the summer break by Ferrari on many occasions, but through a variety of factors, they came out on top then. And since the summer break, they have quite clearly had the best car on most weekends, with the only notable exception being Mercedes‘ 1-2 finish in Brazil, undoubtedly the highlight of the season for the Toto Wolff-led team.

Mercedes and Ferrari have been handed the task to bridge the gap that Red Bull have, and stopping them from starting another era of domination like they had back in the early 2010s. In this regard, they have been given a boost by the penalty given to the British team for the cost cap breach – which docked their aero development time by 10 percent.

The constructor champions get 70 percent of the ‘normal’ aero development time, with second place getting 75 percent, and third place getting 80 percent. As a result of their penalty, Red Bull will only get 63 percent. As per, Toto Wolff thinks Red Bull’s significantly lower (around 27 percent, compared to Mercedes) can have ‘an effect’.

The Mercedes team principal said: “I think it’s harder because you can’t really invest more in order for the outcome to come quicker. But I think how the aerodynamic regulations are designed, and the penalty that they’ve gotten, it’s 25% less wind tunnel [time] and that can have an effect.”

Also Read: ‘Next year we are back,’ Toto Wolff backs Mercedes to come back from a disappointing 2022 season

Toto Wolff: Aero-development time reduction will give Red Bull ‘extra motivation’

Mercedes' team principal Toto Wolff
Mercedes’ team principal Toto Wolff

The current ‘sliding scale’ aerodynamic testing rules are set up so teams at the bottom can make a ‘jump’ or recover to be closer to the top teams: The top team gets 70 percent of the ‘normal’ aero development time, with 7th place getting 100 percent, and last place (or a new team) getting 115 percent. This, along with the budget cap, is put in place in order to have close championships.

Explaining this point, and if Mercedes can take advantage of the penalty handed to Red Bull, Toto Wolff said: “That’s also the reason why we will see much closer championships in the future because if you are last, you will have 40% more. So, clearly that is an advantage that you have to utilise. Is it a given that we can utilise it? Who knows?”

Wolff also feels that the penalty will give Red Bull ‘extra motivation’ to perform even better: “They [Red Bull] are a brilliant racing team. It will give them extra motivation and against Ferrari, it’s seven percent. But it’s around marginal gains and we have been a bit closer to Ferrari in the last quarter of the season.”

With Red Bull’s penalty, and Mercedes’ improvement over the past season along with Ferrari potentially resolving their issues (especially with strategy and execution), there is a very real possibility of a three-way championship fight, which will be a mouth-watering prospect for Formula 1 fans, especially the ‘neutrals’.

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Also Read: “We’ve got a lot to do if we want to fight Red Bull,” George Russell says Mercedes’ struggles at Abu Dhabi were a “bit of a reality check”

Aniket is a Journalism student, and a Ferrari (and Fernando Alonso) fan with much love for Bayern Munich, cinema, music, and literature - and really, all art.