How the budget cap could affect Lewis Hamilton this season
Back in 2021, the FIA introduced the budget cap to make things fairer across the board and not allow the more money-laden and prominent Formula 1 teams to blow the back markers out of the water thanks to the cash at their disposal.
We’ve already seen how the budget cap has had an impact on teams and sports, and now there’s a reason why it could affect Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes more than ever before.
Mercedes, as well as other leading Formula 1 teams such as Ferrari and Red Bull, have often been the favourites when it comes to winning races and championships in recent times and beyond, according to Formula 1 betting odds, and one of the primary reasons has always been that their budgets dwarf those of others.
But, after the budget cap was put in place, things began to level out, and Aston Martin and McLaren moving towards the front proves it works to a degree.
Red Bull did exceed the budget cap within the first year of it being in place, and many suggest that the Australians do have a significant advantage. But, on the other hand, what it has done is make Mercedes have to focus. They’ve had to be smart from the get-go, especially if they want to make up lost ground. However, the budget cap is also affecting things in 2023, which could then impact Hamilton, but the team are rolling with the punches.
Mercedes, who have to be very strategic in their approach, brought to the table the W14 in 2023, which is seen as a very large upgrades package. And this wasn’t a case of them thinking this will be great, let’s go with it, “big enough” improvement was seen by the team in the wind tunnel, and that gave a feeling of confidence that introducing it would be worth spending the money from the budget.
In the past, a team could essentially run something through the wind tunnel and introduce it immediately, as they didn’t have to be cautious about what they were spending in line with a budget cap. If they introduced an upgrade that didn’t work, they could change it. Nowadays, it’s a lot different. Mercedes technical director James Allison’s comments confirmed this when he said the team could only afford to introduce “two or three major upgrades” per season.
It means that Mercedes will not only have to ensure they get the major stuff right but also work in tandem with Hamilton and more closely than ever before when it comes to what Allison describes as “tickles” in between. It could prove beneficial because of how it will bring focus on getting things right, both with respect to upgrades and improvements, as well as staying in line with the budget cap. And getting this part right will also mean that other departments at Mercedes will benefit because of the pragmatic nature of how funds are allocated and spent.