Toto Wolff has admitted that his team are not too far away from switching resources over to the design and development of their 2017 charger.
The new regulations that await the 2017 season are designed to create faster and more aesthetically pleasing Formula one cars. In 2009 and 2014 when the last two major regulation shake ups took place, a new era of dominance followed which benefited Red Bull and Mercedes respectively.
The Mercedes boss is concerned that his team could in fact get left behind if they do not shift their focus over to next year’s car.
“We are now entering a time where things are complicated even more by some big decisions to be made,” commented Wolff. “Every week we must analyse how much resource we move across to the 2017 project — but that’s a tricky balance.”
Wind tunnel and CFD (computational fluid dynamics) time and usage will be reduced again next year which leads Toto to assume that teams already focused on 2017, will already have some form of an advantage.
“Some teams will have stopped 2016 development very early — as early as February maybe, once the current cars hit the circuit. That does give them an advantage, as the learning curve is very steep at the beginning.
“If you are a few weeks behind you can find yourselves much further back in the end. We may be halfway through the battle for this year — but the hard work is only just beginning.”
Mercedes have a 131 point lead over second placed Ferrari in the constructor’s championship; with Red bull a further 6 behind in third place. Which begs the question; do Mercedes really need to keep developing this year’s car?
If their two squabbling drivers can keep contact to a minimum, then Mercedes should be odds on to walk away with the two titles once again. Some development work can be carried over to next year’s car, but Mercedes also don’t want to fall into the same trap that Red bull did back in 2013.
Sebastian Vettel won the 2013 championship by a massive 155 points for Red Bull, also scoring an impressive run of 9 consecutive victories at the end of the season. In hindsight Red Bull perhaps could have switched development earlier strengthening their position for 2014?
Either way, the Silver Arrows probably feel they have things under control and Toto is merely playing a PR game to give hope to his rivals that Brackley is not on a run similar to Ferrari (1999-2004).