Surprise Mercedes update for Spa as Red Bull cease development

As a result of the penalty it received last year for exceeding the cost cap for the 2021 season, the Red Bull team is now forced to halt development of its 2023 single-seater and divert a very large proportion of its resources to the development of the future RB20 for the 2024 season. Meanwhile, Mercedes admit to a big update for Spa, contrary to the statements made by Wolff & Hamilton in recent weeks.

Last year, the Red Bull team was found guilty of exceeding the cost cap in 2021, the first year of its implementation. As a result, Red Bull was fined $7 million and ordered to reduce its wind tunnel time by 10%.


Red Bull forced to cease development

According to F1’s sliding scale for aerodynamic testing, Red Bull, the current championship leaders, are restricted to just 70% of the standard allowance, the equivalent of 28 wind tunnel runs per week. However, the team’s allowance has been reduced to 25 wind tunnel runs per week until October as a penalty for breaching the 2021 cost cap.

By comparison, McLaren gets 95% of the available time – or 38 wind tunnel runs per week – while Mercedes has 30 runs per week, Aston Martin 32 and Ferrari 34.



Horner: Budapest was the last big update

Last weekend in Budapest, Red Bull unveiled an updated RB19 with new sidepods and a heavily modified floor, but Red Bull team boss Christian Horner revealed that this was the last major upgrade to the car for the 2023 season, although some track-specific parts of the calendar will be introduced to the RB19 in the second half of the season.

“I think there will be some elements that are specific to certain circuits like Monza or Singapore because they are specific circuits,” Horner told Sky Sports.

“But with the limited time we have in the wind tunnel, we have to make our choices and so obviously we have to focus a lot on next year now to make sure we don’t fall behind.”


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McLaren on the charge

Horner admits that the competition are closing in on Red Bull, especially McLaren in recent races.

“McLaren have made a big step forward and we expect the others to do the same later in the year, especially with the extra time they have. With the handicap we have, we really need to focus on next year because we have a significant deficit in wind tunnel time compared to our rivals and we need to be very selective about how we use it.

“As I said, we will have some track-specific elements, but nothing that hasn’t already been done or committed to in R&D.”


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Penalties are biting Red Bull

“Our penalty runs run until October [2023], so particularly in terms of the number of runs you can do per week [in the wind tunnel], we’re well behind second and third, and we’re well behind the teams that are fourth or fifth.”

“If you compare the number of runs McLaren can do in the wind tunnel compared to us, there’s a huge difference. So obviously we have to be very, very selective about the runs we do and that’s where the engineering team in Milton Keynes are doing an incredible job. They develop the car efficiently.”


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Mercedes confirm W14 big update for Belgian GP

Contrary to media reports in recent weeks reporting on statements made by Toto Wolff and backed up by Lewis Hamilton, the Mercedes team has not halted development of its current season’s car and has confirmed that it will introduce a number of technical changes for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, the twelfth round of the World Championship.

After a weekend of ups and downs in Budapest, the Mercedes team can be pleased to have scored points with its two cars in the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday, when George Russell started from a distant eighteenth on the grid while both cars suffered cooling problems throughout the race.


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Details yet to be revealed

Nevertheless, Mercedes left Budapest with an extra 20 points, consolidating second place in the Constructors’ Championship, and will look to finish this first part of the season before the summer break on a high in Belgium, where a number of technical innovations will be introduced to the W14 (no details yet), but it is believed to be a significant one.

“Hungary was a weekend of ups and downs. Our pace was high on Saturday and Sunday, but we didn’t maximise that throughout the weekend,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff on the eve of the Belgian Grand Prix.

“Lewis [Hamilton] drove a brilliant lap to take pole position. But on Sunday we were too conservative with some of our decisions and ultimately missed out on the podium. Meanwhile, George [Russell] got stuck [in traffic] in qualifying but drove a solid race from 18th to 6th.

“We also had cooling problems on both cars; we probably had the second quickest car, but we need to do things better if we want to reach our full potential. Nevertheless, we scored some good points with both drivers and consolidated our P2 position in the championship.



“We’ll be looking to put what we’ve learnt into practice this weekend. Spa-Francorchamps is a classic venue and a real challenge for cars and drivers, especially in the sprint format with such limited practice time [a single free practice session] on a long and difficult lap.

“We will be making updates this weekend as part of our ongoing development programme. Hopefully this will be another small step forward in improving the W14.

“As we’ve seen at many races this year, it’s difficult to predict where we’ll be in relation to our competitors. Whatever the true pace of our car, we want to maximise the result of this last race before the summer break.”

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