Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn says Mercedes needs to “squeeze a bit more juice out of the lemon without putting too much resource into it”.
At the Styrian Grand Prix Red Bull has once again beaten Mercedes, but it is still not entirely clear what caused the Austrian team’s improved performance.
There’s no doubt that the 2021 regulations favour high-rake cars (like the one Red Bull has), over low-rake ones (like Mercedes), however Ross Brawn believes the new rules are not the primary reason behind Red Bull’s success.
“Someone said to me after the race: ‘Do you think the change in the regulations hurt Mercedes?’,” wrote Brawn in his Formula 1.com column.
“And I said let’s not forget at the end of last year, the Red Bull was probably the fastest car. The change of regulations impacted everyone.
“How much each team was affected is difficult to judge. Red Bull are really starting to assert their authority.”
Despite suffering a decisive defeat in Austria, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff reiterated that Mercedes will not be bringing any big upgrades for their 2021 car, because the team is now focused on producing next year’s challenger under new Formula 1 regulations.
Brawn believes Mercedes’ decision is the right one.
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“It’s a very difficult year for Mercedes to come back because the focus is so strongly on next season – and the new regulations. Nothing can be done on the engine.
“Do they burn any resource on this car and sacrifice a bit for next year? I suspect not, as it’s so difficult to suddenly pick up the momentum on a car that you’ve probably stopped working on.
“They may try and race it more effectively, try and squeeze a bit more performance out of the set up of the car, and how it’s working, but I don’t think we’re going to see any big upgrades or big changes in the car.
“They have to squeeze a bit more juice out of the lemon without putting too much resource into it which could negatively impact next year.
“It looks like Red Bull are running a lower drag configuration, giving them a straight-line speed advantage. I don’t know if that is an option to Mercedes.
“Are they at the optimum? Do they question their simulations? Is the development of a new rear wing maybe the sort of project they could afford to put some resource into?
“That’s what going to be rattling around their minds until the break. Once the break is over, everyone will be committed to next year.
“Let’s see what happens in the next three races before the summer break,” concluded the Briton.