After years of false starts, 2021 finally sees the introduction of a budget cap, one of the ways in which the sport is hoping to level the playing field and thereby open up competition.

The likes of Haas are barely affected for the American team’s spending doesn’t come anywhere near the $145m limit, while Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull are having to make drastic changes in order to comply.

Mercedes technical boss, James Allison admits that keeping to the budget has been a huge challenge for the German team.

“Probably the biggest weapon we could possibly have to attack these new financial regulations in a good way would be to launch with a car that is fast from the beginning,” says the Briton, “because a car that is fast from the beginning is going to be cheaper to keep quick during the whole season.

So let’s hope that we’ve put enough ‘goodness’ into the car at the beginning of the year, to allow our plans to unfold in a way that sees us operating at a high level under this new constraint, where we are fighting with exactly the same guns as everybody else,” he adds.

Allison reveals that the way the team has approached the cap is by ensuring that it optimises certain components

“This means figuring out how we can make components on our car to last longer,” he explains, “how to build them more cheaply and how to make sure we maintain the same sort of performance that we did previously, despite the fact that our overall budget has come down.

“It’s a huge challenge,” he admits, “and building the car is only part of it. We then have to operate the car, develop the car, we have to do the entire season with all the uncertainties that we face in terms of how often it might crash, or how reliable components are and then need resources spent to fix that.

In addition, the team has had to deal with the aerodynamic tweaks that have been introduced this season.

“Much of our focus over the last weeks and months has been trying to understand what the effect of those changes are on the main flow fields around the car and how to try to find back the performance that is lost when you first adopt those new regulations.”

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