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Red Bull’s rivals feel recovery hampered by F1 cost cap

Red Bull’s biggest rivals say that Formula 1’s cost cap rules have been the main barrier in preventing them closing the gap to the front of the field.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, the remainder of the field at the start

As Red Bull bids to continue its lock out of race victories in Hungary this weekend, its closest competitors still admit they are behind the Milton Keynes-based squad.

While major upgrades introduced by both Mercedes and Ferrari have produced encouraging steps forward, the scale of the car changes they want to introduce have been limited on budget grounds.

Both teams are of the view that if spending was unlimited then they would have worked on much bigger overhauls of their cars to help them get on terms with Red Bull.

Asked how much their 2023 developments were being restricted, Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur said: “The main driver of this is the cost cap, that you can't do a new project as was probably the case a couple of years ago.

“It means that you have to adapt your project to the situation and in these conditions, I think we did a decent step forward.

PLUS: The hidden cost cap rules hindering Williams' F1 progress

“You have also to consider that the regulation is much more prescriptive than before and it's quite difficult to do a big step into the season.

“But we are, as everybody, already working on the project of next year, trying to correct the direction.”

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff added: “I share Fred's opinion. The cost cap is a real constraint now. Because you cannot just go for a B-spec car.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG, Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari, Mario Isola, Racing Manager, Pirelli Motorsport, in the Team Prinicpals Press Conference

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG, Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari, Mario Isola, Racing Manager, Pirelli Motorsport, in the Team Prinicpals Press Conference

Photo by: FIA Pool

“Lewis [Hamilton] and George [Russell] have been pretty vocal about what they would want to change in the car and that's simply not possible because we are lacking the financial corridor. And that's why we're looking very much at next year to change these things.”

While changes are limited in the current season, there is more scope to be bolder with revisions for 2024 as the cost cap figures will reset.

But while Wolff has been open that a more fundamental car tweak is on the cards for next year, he says the team does not want to totally abandon all efforts for this season.

“When I asked Niki [Lauda], many years ago, what do you want to concentrate on: this year's championship and win it or next year's? He would say both," explained Wolff.

PLUS: When is the perfect time for F1 teams to focus on 2024?

“So, I think it's always continuing to develop those cars is important for our understanding. At the same time, you mustn't waste resource when you go to a, let's say, different layout of car next year.

“So, it's balancing it out. But I guess that many teams are already quite a large chunk of development into next year.”

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