Mercedes still has the ability to fight Red Bull for the championship even if it was in a different league at the Styrian Grand Prix, according to Toto Wolff.
Lewis Hamilton voiced his concern that the championship will soon be over if Mercedes does not bring any more upgrades this season, which happened after Wolff confirmed the team’s development was all focused on 2022 already. Max Verstappen dominated Sunday’s first race in Austria, but Wolff says Red Bull will also have to switch focus to next year at some point and that Mercedes will have tracks that suit it more.
“The championship is not only played with adding aerodynamic parts because at a certain stage, even the ones like Red Bull who keep on adding parts, need to switch all of the development into next year,” Wolff said. “And that means all the exploitation of the car around the set-up work, the tires, and the optimization of how we are running will become a very, very important part.
“And it would make no sense to put a week or two or months back on the current car as the gains wouldn’t be anywhere near of the gains you’re making on the 2022 car.
“Having said that, this is far from over. We had a very difficult weekend in Austria with no weapons in our armory to win this race fair and straight but we will be winning races this year and will be having pole positions and will be fighting as much as we can for every single result.
“The driver will always fight with everything he has. We’ve had the chat before and it is a very rationale decision – the upgrades you bring wouldn’t close the aerodynamic deficit of the magnitude the new aero regs cost us, fact.
“Now, it is about as I said before, they will stop aero development at a certain stage because it would be dangerous for next year’s championship to lose out on next year’s championship. So, the fight is still full on. That wasn’t our best circuit in the past, it wasn’t (on Sunday), it doesn’t mean we have no weapons in our armory left.”
"I gave it everything, guys. Let's keep pushing." 👊pic.twitter.com/Dy8OdfqJnj
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) June 29, 2021
While Wolff admits Red Bull’s performance level in Austria hints at 2021 being tough to turn around, he believes the trade-off is a number of more competitive years beyond that.
“It is a very, very tricky decision because we are having new regulations not only for next year but the years to come, a completely different car concept,” he said. “And you’ve got to choose the right balance and pretty much everybody’s going to be on next year’s cars.”
“Some may still bring stuff. Red Bull brought trucks, vans Thursday and Friday with new parts. Fair enough, it’s a strategy. And one that proves to be successful as it stands because they were simply in a league of their own from a car pace wise.”