Allison: We will walk a development tightrope in 2021

Allison Hamilton Bottas

Mercedes technical director James Allison has revealed that the team will have to walk a tightrope between focusing on the 2021 Formula 1 season and developing their car for 2022.

The sport introduces a new set of sporting regulations next season which all the teams are currently working towards, meaning there is a fine balance to strike in terms of focus.

With F1 changing the regulations relating to the floor ahead of this season, the team’s have also been working hard over the off-season in an attempt to regain the lost downforce, while they have also had to adapt to components being frozen and the new development token system.

“What’s carried over will look different from team to team, because the rules didn’t require you to carry over the same things,” Allison said. “The rules freeze a large chunk of the car, but then give each team two tokens to spend on changing their car.

“Along with the tokens comes a shopping list showing how many tokens are required for each change. How teams decided what to use their tokens on was entirely up to them.

“In addition, there are some parts of the car that you can change token-free, for example the Power Unit, the cooling systems, the suspension and of course all of the aerodynamic surfaces.

“We have spent our tokens, but we won’t reveal how we used them just yet. That’ll become clear in good time. Once the racing gets underway, pretty much everything under the skin of the car must then be frozen for the entire year. With the specific permission of the FIA, you can make changes for reliability or cost saving, but if part of your car isn’t performing well, then you are stuck with it for the whole season.”

Mercedes have been a dominant force in F1 since the start of the turbo-hybrid era in 2014 and Allison said that the ideal situation would be to come out of the blocks fast once again, before turning their attention to the new regulations.

“The ideal situation would be to have a car that is so brilliantly fast, you can almost turn your back on it immediately and focus on the next one,” he said. “But Formula 1 is never that simple.

“The siren call of the 2021 racing campaign will inevitably draw our attention from the seismic changes of the 2022 regulations.

“We will walk a tightrope all year between doing enough to be competitive in 2021 and putting as much as we dare into 2022. Managing the bird in the hand and the one in the bush is the eternal challenge of F1 and doing so in the face of both the cost cap and the completely new 2022 technical regulations will be a challenge like no other.”