Mercedes’ $8million payday versus Ferrari’s added ATR time

Michelle Foster
Mercedes driver George Russell and Charles Leclerc speaking after the season finale.

Mercedes beat Ferrari to P2 in the Constructors' Championship.

Mercedes may have an extra $8 million in the bank having secured P2 in the championship, but next season Ferrari will have roughly two more hours per week to develop their car.

In a season in which Red Bull raced unchallenged to the championship double, Mercedes and Ferrari were left to pick up the pieces in the fight for second place in the Constructors’ standings.

Although Mercedes held a 56-point advantage after the Belgian Grand Prix, Ferrari ate into that to slash the deficit to just four points heading into the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Mercedes bag the money, Ferrari the ATR time

Despite some late-race tactics from Charles Leclerc in an attempt to hinder George Russell, the Briton finished third to Leclerc’s P2 while Lewis Hamilton’s extra two points meant Mercedes claimed second place by three points.

That comes with a rather nice pay cheque.

“There is a ranking in the Constructors’ Championship and the gradations are always worth eight million dollars,” said Sky Deutschland commentator Sascha Roos.

However, it could be argued that Ferrari’s extra Aerodynamic Testing Restrictions time balances the scales.

Introduced in 2021 in a bid to level the playing field, ATR is a sliding scale that’s based on the Constructors’ Championship positions with the winner of the championship permitted fewer hours in the wind tunnel than the runner-up team.

Red Bull led the way in 2023, so they will have 70 per cent of the total aerodynamic testing allowance next season with Mercedes given an extra five per cent, Ferrari an extra 10, and so it goes down to Haas who’ll have 115% of the allowance.

According to Roos, that equates to two hours more per week for Ferrari than Mercedes.

“The wind tunnel times to make the car better are of course also an incentive. Between second and third places there are two more hours a week that you can put the car in the wind tunnel. You can then see whether the development steps you’ve come up with are appropriate,” he said.

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Drivers react to championship result

Chased by Sergio Perez and Russell in the closing laps of the Abu Dhabi race, Leclerc let Perez overtake him for second in the hope the Mexican driver, who had a penalty hanging over his head, could pull five seconds clear of Russell.

Perez could not, crossing the line three and a half seconds ahead of the Mercedes driver, meaning he fell to fourth in the official classification and Russell’s P3 handed Mercedes second place in the standings.

Although disappointed to have missed out by a mere three points, Leclerc says there were positives for Ferrari, especially in the latter part of the season.

“It’s so much up and down,” said the Monégasque driver. “We’ve got races where we were definitely the second fastest cars, other races where maybe we were the fourth or fifth fastest car, so it was really up and down.

“But I believe that since Japan, when we brought an upgrade to the car, it went in the right direction, especially for my driving style. I always like to have a strong front and I felt much more at ease and could be much more consistent. So yeah, that’s a positive.

“Then, of course, very disappointed with that third place in the Constructors’ as that was my only target since two or three races now.”

As for Russell, he simply said: “Just really pleased to have secured P2 for the team. And I’m sure everyone will have a few drinks tonight.

“A massive relief to have brought the car home in P3. Can’t believe it’s only the second podium of the year, but really happy to end the season this way.”

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