Red Bull is mindful its Formula 1 title push could leave it playing catch up to its rivals next year, but believes it has applied its resources “accordingly”.
For the first time in the V6 hybrid era, Red Bull mounted a title challenge to Mercedes that went down to the final race in Abu Dhabi – with victory for Max Verstappen securing the team’s first drivers’ title in eight years.
The Milton Keynes-based outfit developed its 2021 car until the end of the year, while other teams such as Ferrari switched focus to their 2022 challengers early on.
The arrival of the major technical regulation changes could see a shake-up in the pecking order, and the decision to shift resources to next year could give some teams an early advantage.
While Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is confident it found the right balance between upgrading the RB16B and work on next year’s car, he acknowledged it could be proved wrong at the first round in Bahrain.
“When Ferrari turn up with the fastest car and smash us out of the park at the first race then you’ll have to say that it probably did [compromise us],” Horner said, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“But I think that we’ve all known that big regulation changes are coming for 2022 and we’ve applied our resource accordingly.
“I’m sure each team has done what they feel is right and it’s put pressure on the organisation, of course. But that’s where I think the team have been outstanding, because to keep a development rate on a new set of regulations and keep a focus on this year’s car has taken a monumental effort. The commitment shown by all of the team, throughout the team, has been phenomenal.
“But we will only see when we come back in a couple of months’ time, with completely new cars. They look different, they’re going to feel different, they’re going to drive differently – and who’s got it right, who’s got it wrong? It all starts again.”
F1 introduced a cost cap and aero handicap system from this year in a bid to reduce the gulf in performance between the frontrunners and the rest of the grid.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes both will play a major role in how next season plays out, with teams who finished lower in the constructors’ standings entitled to more windtunnel and CFD time over the year.
“We are all operating under the same financial cap and the concepts are very new,” Wolff said.
“Then what was introduced is the aerodynamic regulations, where teams based on their standing in the championship had a little bit more allowance.
“So it’s pretty much possible that teams who hadn’t competed for the world championship this year, whether it’s Ferrari, McLaren or Aston Martin or Alpine are capable of coming up with the intelligent concepts based on much more runs than everybody else and just doing it very right.
“I think we need to expect much closer fighting for championships and races than we had before, and that’s exciting.”