Mercedes will presumably argue Lewis Hamilton’s defeat in 2021 by Red bull’s Max Verstappen was due to the Red Bull overspend the FIA revealed yesterday. However this is somewhat disingenuous given Mercedes as a team easily beat Red Bull in the 2021 constructors championship. This championship usually reveals which team built the best car.
Further by introducing a new power unit that costs around $10m in Brazil – and for performance reasons only by Mercedes own admission – complaining about a Red Bull overspend of what is now believed to be around $1.8m is rather hypocritical.
Hamilton was falling behind in 2021
During the 2021 season from round 10 onwards, Lewis Hamilton had won just one race before round 19 in San Paulo. His new power unit at altitude gave him a significant advantage winning the Sunday race with ease.
Lewis then went on to win the next two rounds in Qatar and Saudi Arabia to give himself a chance at of the drivers title in Abu Dhabi.
Yet Lewis Hamilton commented that had Mercedes spent another $300,000 he would have won the title.
Hamilton blames Red Bull overspend for his loss of title
When asked about Red Bull cost cap breach Hamilton had this to say.
“I don’t want to say anything really but what can say is I remember last year in Silverstone we had our last upgrade and fortunately it was great and we could fight with it,” he told Sky ahead of the Japanese GP weekend.
“But then we would see Red Bull every weekend or every other weekend bringing upgrades. They had, I think, at least four more upgrades from that point.
“If we had spent $300,000 on a new floor or an adapted wing it would have changed the outcome of the championship, naturally, because we would have been in better competition in the next race you had it on.
“So I hope that that’s not the case, for the sport.”
FIA: Power units to join cost cap
Of course at present power units are outside the cost cap, so Mercedes could throw an estimated extra $10m at a power unit they didn’t require due to failure.
However, Mercedes will have to bess profligate with their use of power units from 2023.
The FIA has finalised the regulation changes for the 2023 Formula 1 season. There are technical changes that will raise the height of the floor edges by 15mm to reduce porpoising and bouncing. However, there is a budget cap being introduced for the F1 power units.
The World Motorsport Council met on August 16th issuing certain technical regulations for the new breed of power units Formula One will adopt from 2026. Yet they also created regulations for the interim period while the sport continues to use the F1 V6 hybrid power units.
F1 teams will have just 1 spare power unit
There will be a maximum budget allowed per team of $95m a year for power units from 2023-2025. With 24 races scheduled for the 2023 season the power unit allowance per driver has risen to 4 per season before penalties are applied.
Given a complete power unit is believed to cost around $10m dollars this will leave a team just $15m dollars wriggle room if they consume more than their 4 units per car.
Of course the F1 power unit is comprised of a number of components, each of which have a restriction on how many new iterations can be introduced.
F1 team need to be more inventive
Yet at present if one or two of these components are faulty, the team may simply introduce a whole new power unit and take the extra penalty for the performance gain they receive.
The 2023 budget should prevent this happening more than once in the team and the teams will have to repair power units component by component to stay within the cost cap limit.
In 2021 Mercedes used more internal combustion engines in both their cars than any other team on the grid. Valterri Bottas had used 5 for the season and Lewis Hamilton 6. The allowance for the entire year was just 4.
Mercedes advatanage will diminish
In the current era the internal combustion engine is particularly significant in producing the majority of the power and this degrades the more the engine is used. This will change in 2026, when the electrical component of the power unit will produce 50% of the power.
Mercedes spend on power units and their components has been estimated in excess of $100m for just 22 races. Their budget for next season will be just $95m and for two races more.
So before Mercedes call for Max Verstaopen to be ‘de-crowned’ as champion and Lewis re-instated, it might be worth them considering Red Bull’s overspend of around $1.8m was dwarfed by their excessive use of power unit components for performance reasons only.
A race winning move ✅
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 14, 2021