Mercedes says there is a risk of one of the top teams ending up half a second off the pace in 2021 if they switch over development resource too late this year.
The major Formula 1 rules revamp coming for next year means teams need to juggle the development of their 2020 cars alongside intensive work on their future challenger.
The situation is also further complicated by the arrival of a cost cap in 2021 which will mean there is a limit to the spending they can make in the future.
Against that backdrop, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says that how teams tackle the 2020 will be key to deciding the next two world titles.
“This year’s championship is a two year championship,” he said, speaking at the announcement of a major sponsorship deal with INEOS. “It is not only about 2020 under the current regulations.
“There’s such a massive regulatory change for 2021, that balancing your allocation of resource will be crucial in terms of how much of your resource you’re switching into the 2021 car.
“Obviously, the learning and development slope is much steeper at the beginning. So if you get it wrong and you’re months behind, you might be half a second behind. And this is a challenge which we have embraced in the past through two regulatory changes, and we love that one.”
While Mercedes is coming off the back of sixth successful F1 title doubles, Wolff says its motivation levels are still as high as they ever were.
“Every year we try to set the right objectives, and objectives that are understood throughout the organisation,” he said.
“I think it’s so important to wake up with purpose. And I don’t see a lack of motivation and purpose within the organisation
“The pain of losing is so much more intense and lasts so much longer than the joy of winning. And this is in a way what drives us strongly. The sheer thought about losing makes you forget about all your previous achievements.”
He added: “Last year’s record doesn’t buy us any credit for the 2020 championship. So all lap times, all points go to zero and we are yet again in front of another challenge.
“In a way there is a reason why six was a world record. Because it’s bloody difficult. And we want to push that needle further.”
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