As the 2023 Formula 1 season unfolds, Mercedes finds itself trailing Red Bull for the second consecutive year, with no signs of the gap closing anytime soon. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and the Austrian team have proven themselves virtually unbeatable this season, leaving other teams struggling to keep up.
Andrew Shovlin, the trackside engineering director for Mercedes, believes that the cost cap imposed in F1 is hindering teams from making significant gains to challenge Red Bull’s dominance. Red Bull has consistently showcased superior performance across all types of tracks, leaving competitors in their wake.
Shovlin shared his insights during the Hungarian Grand Prix, stating, “If you launch a competitive car, in a cost cap, it is quite difficult for teams to catch up because if you’ve got a competitive car, you don’t need to be throwing updates at it.”
He highlighted the initial advantage Red Bull gained with their competitive car, which has made it challenging for rivals like Mercedes and Ferrari to narrow the performance gap throughout the season.
“They started in a very, very good place and the fact is, our wind tunnel resource is not very different to theirs it’s not very different to Ferraris so that initial performance advantage you start with and it has come down over the year.
“But when you look at how big it was in, you know in Bahrain and Jeddah it’s always difficult to shut that down in terms of the championship.”
Although Mercedes came close to challenging Red Bull at the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix, they were outperformed by McLaren at Silverstone, while Verstappen continues to secure victories.
Change of direction
As the season progresses, teams like Mercedes and Ferrari face crucial decisions about their approach to the championship. With the realization that catching Red Bull this year might be out of reach, they must weigh the benefits of allocating resources to the current season versus focusing on the 2024 campaign. Forgoing further updates on the current car could give them a chance to close the gap on Red Bull in the upcoming season, a strategy that could prove worthwhile when there is little hope of winning the titles this year.
Both Mercedes and Ferrari possess the technical expertise to make significant progress if they concentrate on refining their formula for the 2024 season. While teams like McLaren and Aston Martin may continue to compete this year, they will likely feel the consequences in the following season.
Given Red Bull’s seemingly unattainable lead this year, some teams may choose to shift their focus to the future while there is still ample time to strategize and make necessary improvements.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 19, 2023