With Red Bull extending their point lead, Mercedes has revealed they’re no longer developing the W12. What does that mean for this year’s championship?
After the Styrian Grand Prix in Austria last weekend, Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff came out with information that the team would no longer be developing their W12 and instead focus on the 2022 car, which is based on a whole new set of regulations for the future of F1.
Wolff told Sky Sports F1 that Mercedes would “continue to stick to our principle of putting our resource into 2022”.
Meaning from this point on, Mercedes will not be wasting any more time developing their current car; however, technical head James Ellison pointed out that there are still upgrades that will be added to the W12 to continue their fight for an 8th consecutive championship title.
“We have a reasonable number of things that are going to make our car faster in the coming races,” he said. “Let’s hope they prove sufficient.”
This new information from Mercedes alters expectations for the rest of the season and what the championship title fight will look like.
For one, this puts Red Bull as the most likely winner of both the World Driver’s and the Constructors’ Championships. Since preseason testing Red Bull has proven that this was their year. Minus a few races at the start of the year where Mercedes had a better strategy, they’ve maintained near-perfect races.
Red Bull’s number one driver Max Verstappen currently holds a 32 point lead over his nearest rival in Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. On the team championship side, Red Bull has an aggressive 42 point lead over the former champions. This would be Red Bull’s first championship win since 2013 with then-driver Sebastian Vettel.
After the second Austrian Grand Prix this weekend, it’s been shown that any updates Mercedes may be working on have proven to make them fast enough to secure 2nd, but not enough to challenge Max for 1st place.
In Mercedes’ favor, Red Bull will be faced with the question of when to stop putting more into their current car and instead shift their focus to next year. If they switch over too soon, they could lose the title to Mercedes, and if they don’t switch over soon enough, they may have to sacrifice 2022 and the years after. It puts Red Bull in a tough position both now and in the future. As it stands currently, Team Principal Christian Horner said they were planning to continue development as the season continues.
This could create a situation for Mercedes to gain an advantage over Red Bull. If the focus shifts to the 2022 car and a lull happens with the current car, Hamilton and Mercedes may find this to be the opportunity to score vital points. If Red Bull does commit to winning this year’s titles and Mercedes settles, it could be the advantage that repeats their dominance in the sport. By sacrificing 2021 at only 2nd place, it could put them back on top for 2022 and beyond.
Mercedes sits comfortably in 2nd of the Constructors Championship, with Mclaren and Ferrari realistically unable to catch them throughout the season if they decide to fully let go of their beloved W12. Seeing Mercedes essentially ‘throw in the towel’ is vastly out of character for the team, but with the championship slipping out of their grasp, it may be in their best interest to cut and run.
Everyone will make tough decisions, but the ones made by Mercedes and Red Bull will make or break the championship and what’s to come for 2022.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Breanna’s earliest memories of motorsports come from Kyle Busch and his M&M car. Currently, Breanna studies journalism at UNLV, where she one day plans to become a sports journalist/broadcaster in motorsports. Outside of school, you can usually find Breanna crocheting a new blanket or baking cookies.
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