The extensive damage Valtteri Bottas’s Mercedes sustained in his crash with George Russell could slow the team’s development programme, CEO Toto Wolff has warned.
Wolff says that a potential write-off for one of their cars was something they had “always feared” given the implementing of new financial regulations – known as the budget cap – for the 2021 F1 season.
“The whole situation is absolutely not amusing for us, to be honest,” says Wolff. “It’s quite a big shunt. Our car is a write-off, in a cost cap environment that is certainly not what we needed and probably it’s going to limit upgrades that we are able to do.
“We are very stretched on cost cap and what we always feared is a total write-off of a car.”
With Mercedes losing victory to Red Bull, who have enjoyed their strongest start to a season for several years, Wolff is conscious of his team’s need to improve their car to avoid losing the championship battle to their rivals.
“We are still having a deficit with the car,” he said. “Yesterday, we ended up on pole, but if Max puts in a clean lap, we are probably two-and-a-half tenths behind, maybe three. That is simply what the pecking order is at the moment.
“Today it was very difficult to judge because of the circumstances. But we had a very good car today in the wet and when it was drying up. So we are slowly starting to understand it. But according to the data, we are still not having a car and power unit that can match the Red Bull-Honda.”
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