Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies believes the budget cap has brought an end to piling on upgrades throughout a season.
All-new challengers will hit the track in 2022 when Formula 1 returns to action, with the fresh set of regulations, albeit restrictive, still providing teams with the opportunity to innovate and develop their challengers in-season.
Ferrari though, at least for themselves, expect the budget cap to play a big part in that respect.
In 2021, teams were for the first time limited on how much they could spend on their chassis with the original limit of $145m now reduced to $140m for the 2022 season.
Both figures represented a significant spending cut compared to the numbers Ferrari were used to, so with the team focusing on remaining within the cap Mekies expects the development drive for 2022 to be impacted.
Although Ferrari’s upgrade plan will not be like 2021, when it was “almost nil” due to their focus on the 2022 challenger, Mekies does not see how Ferrari can bring through upgrades in the same numbers as previous years now the budget cap is in force.
“If you look at 2019 or 2018, I think we will see less. In those seasons, the big teams had something new every race, or every two,” said Mekies, quoted by Motorsport.com.
“It seems difficult from our point of view to have a large number of updates with the limits that exist.”
Therefore, it has become vital for teams like Ferrari to carefully plan out what upgrades they will look to bring, agreeing with each department what is achievable considering the budget restraints.
But since these regulations are completely new for 2022, the upgrade plan could shift drastically if a major issue crops up in pre-season testing or the opening rounds that needs an urgent fix.
“You need to keep a few marks to develop during the season because you will learn more and more, and you have to find ways to adjust it,” said Mekies. “That’s been the biggest challenge.
“Once you’ve defined it that’s what you have to develop, the aerodynamics and the mechanics, so every department will say ‘okay, with that I can do these two or three updates’ and then you will schedule all your plans to make it happen.
“That’s what we do now. The difficulty is it depends on how competitive you are with the others.
“If you have a big hiccup at the start of the season and it doesn’t correlate with the rest, you can spend some of your money on two or three upgrades. You need to fix it any way you can, so you take the parts, throw it away and that’s how you will fix it.”
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