Mercedes given boost with extra wind tunnel allowance

Henry Valantine
Lewis Hamilton wheeled into the Mercedes garage. Canada June 2022.

The Mercedes pit crew wheel Lewis Hamilton back into the garage. Montreal June 2022.

Due to their poorer performances so far this season, Mercedes will have the option of running more wind tunnel testing in the second half of the year.

This is due to the aerodynamic testing restrictions [ATR] in Formula 1 switching for the second half of the year, based on the teams’ Constructors’ Championship positions after the Canadian Grand Prix.

The ATR began last year with the hope of helping bring the field closer together by limiting the amount of aerodynamic and CFD [computational fluid dynamics] item tests with the equivalent of a ‘success penalty’.

Essentially, the higher the team is in the Constructors’ standings, the less they’re allowed to use the wind tunnel and test CFD items.

Mercedes had been allotted the lowest amount of wind tunnel runs in the first half of 2022 as they topped last year’s Constructors’ standings, at 70% of the agreed limit of 320 runs, meaning they could only use the wind tunnel 224 times in the past six months, compared to a limit of 368 for Haas at the bottom of the table.

But Mercedes’ drop in this year’s championship will up their allowance to 80%, which will give them an extra 32 chances to evaluate new aero parts in the wind tunnel in the second half of the year, as well as 200 more CFD items, as per Appendix 7 of this year’s sporting regulations.

These changes will also have the opposite impact on Red Bull and Ferrari, whose moves up the standings will see their wind tunnel use reduced.

But the team most affected by the ATR reset is Alfa Romeo, as their improved performances this season have moved them up three places compared to their standing at the end of 2021, thus wiping out 48 runs in the wind tunnel and 300 CFD items.

Likewise, a drop of two places for Williams sees them able to use 115% of the testing limit as they look to climb back towards the rest of the pack.

Mercedes confirmed they will be bringing upgrades to the British Grand Prix on the first weekend of July, in the hope of closing the gap to Ferrari and Red Bull at the front of the field.

ATR allowances from 1 July [Constructors’ Championship change from 1 January in brackets]

Red Bull [up 1] – 70% of testing limit [224 wind tunnel uses]
Ferrari [up 1] – 75% [240]
Mercedes [down 2] – 80% [256]
McLaren [no change] – 85% [272]
Alpine [no change] – 90% [288]
Alfa Romeo [up 3] – 95% [304]
AlphaTauri [down 1] – 100% [320]
Aston Martin [down 1] – 105% [336]
Haas [up 1] – 110% [352]
Williams [down 2] – 115% [368]


Are Mercedes truly on road to recovery?

Porpoising issues have prevented Mercedes from being title contenders this season.