E s is the question of all questions. The answer to this can be decided by the World Cup in 2016 and 2017. On the eve of a major regulatory reform, all teams are faced with the difficult decision of when the development program will be fully geared towards the coming year. Looking to the future, the sooner the better. For the current year, however, this could have decisive consequences for the title.
Two examples? 2008 Honda dropped out of the development of the 2008 car in April. There was no chance. For this, Ross Brawn's team built the world champion car for the new 2009 aero rules. It was then named BrawnGP. Red Bull acted similarly and one year later rose to number 2 in the field. McLaren and Ferrari were involved in the title fight until the end of the 2008 season. They ended up in nowhere a year later.
The same game on the threshold of the 2014 hybrid formula. Mercedes began developing cars and engines earlier than others. And celebrated two world titles in a row. Red Bull developed its car in 2013 until the end of the season and paid for it in 2014. Not only because Renault slept through the hybrid age. The Red Bull RB10 was also no longer the best car in the field.
Mercedes can no longer rely on its lead
This time it is particularly difficult to get the timing right only tick for 2017. Mercedes can feel the hot breath of Ferrari and Red Bull. Neither Brackley and Brixworth can hope to benefit from the lead they still have.
Montreal showed how much it has shrunk. At the same time, Mercedes cannot weaken for 2017. In terms of engine performance, the field will move closer together next year. This makes chassis development and aerodynamics more important again.
In the past, the big teams could defuse the problem by simply operating the wind tunnel around the clock and, if necessary, switching to a second system. That is no longer possible.
Each team is only allowed to spend 25 hours in the wind tunnel per week. And each team has only 25 teraflops of computer capacity available for CFD development. So the question in the title race is: How much of the 25/25 contingent do I still sacrifice for the 2016 car without harming the 2017 development?
Ferrari uses motor tokens in Silverstone
Mercedes got the last major upgrade for the 2016 car last weekapproved. It is expected that the parts will be produced by Silverstone. From now on, the vehicle engineers in Brackley are only thinking about 2017. For the engine, at least one more power expansion stage should come. Probably on time for the two races where you need them the most: Spa and Monza.
Ferrari will redeem another token at Silverstone. This time with the internal combustion engine. That promises a further boost in performance. The SF16-H chassis is to be further developed in small steps. Longer than with Mercedes. The 2016 World Championship title is on the agenda. If Maranello puts its hands on its lap, the gap with Mercedes can never be closed.
Red Bull will also continue to work on the current RB12. “As always until the end of the season,” reveals team advisor Helmut Marko. “It's not like the wider cars suddenly turn all aerodynamic laws upside down. Many of today's concepts can also be carried over to 2017. ”
Motor partner Renault is not planning any further expansion stage, but does not rule out that one or the other token will still be redeemed if you find something that also includes that 2017 engine helps.
Chassis development is a gray area
Mercedes fears that the competition is better equipped for parallel development. Because the opponents can use their satellite teams to relieve them of work. According to Mercedes, Ferrari has already done this with HaasF1 for this year's car. And at Red Bull, the same is on the way with Toro Rosso. Toro Rosso is returning from Ferrari to Renault engines for a reason.
The regulations prohibit joint aerodynamic development, but allow job sharing for the identical parts permitted by the regulations. The chassis is a gray area. Each team actually has to develop it themselves. But the chassis tubes are so similar in the end that it is difficult to determine who contributed what to the development. So it is theoretically possible that HaasF1 and Toro Rosso do preparatory work for their senior partners on the chassis. Mercedes is on its own. Manor has neither the capacity nor the staff to help Mercedes.