Wolff predicts no-one driving ‘a second ahead’ in medium term

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. Yas Marina December 2021

Title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. Yas Marina December 2021

Toto Wolff isn’t at all worried that one team will get the jump on its rivals with the new 2022 rules, saying the days of one team being a “second ahead” are over.

This season Formula 1 will be racing all-new cars, the sport adopting ground-effect aerodynamics in the hope that it will produce closer racing.

Added to that the teams are also operating under a budget cap, $140m for 2022, meaning the days of two or three teams spending more than $400m are a thing of the past.

The financial and aerodynamic regulations all have one goal, to level the playing field.

With that in mind, Formula 1’s technical team have gone through the regulations repeatedly – “rule-busting” as F1 managing director Ross Brawn called it – to close any loopholes that may have existed.

All of that together has Wolff convinced that no one team is going to design a car that is a second quicker than the rest of the field.

“I believe that the budget cap will bring many things into line,” the Mercedes motorsport boss explained in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport.

“If someone finds a loophole and runs away with it, everyone will recreate it.

“The cars will all be very similar. There can still be differences in the first year. After that it will balance out.

“There will no longer be a team that drives a second ahead.”

Toto Wolff holding a microphone at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Jeddah December 2021.

Last season Mercedes’ run of successive championship doubles came to an end as Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to the Drivers’ Championship title.

Mercedes still won the Constructors’ crown, their eighth in a row, despite Red Bull’s efforts late in the season to upgrade their car to give Verstappen the edge.

It begs the question whether Mercedes, who stopped developing the W12 months earlier, will have the advantage going into 2022.

“We believed that last year too,” Wolff said. “Then the regulations were changed and our time advantage was gone.

“The development curve for the 2022 cars is currently rising so steeply that you cannot predict who will do it better and smarter.”

But with the cap in mind, the limits already in place last season, neither Red Bull nor Mercedes were able to engage in the development wars that played out in yesteryear.

Wolff concedes that while those spending $400m and up weren’t happy about that, it is better for Formula 1. So much so he reckons the sport could have “five or six” teams fighting for race wins in the years to come.

“Of course, the teams that had deep pockets weren’t particularly happy that we lost an advantage there,” he said of the cap.


“But the whole thing has degenerated into an arms race between Red Bull, Ferrari and us. Now everything will be more balanced.

“I think there are five or six teams that can win in the future. That’s good for sports. It’s not always the same team that wins the Super Bowl.”


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Wolff predicts no-one driving 'a second ahead'

Toto Wolff believes that no-one will be driving a second ahead in the 2022 season.