Mercedes will "pay the price" this year for 2020 success
Mercedes technical director James Allison has explained the new success-based limits on wind tunnel usage will see the Silver Arrows "pay the price" this year for its championship success last season.
In a bid to help improve the racing and close the gaps between teams, Formula 1 has introduced a sliding scale that dictates how much time a team can spend in the wind tunnel and using CFD [computational fluid dynamics].
Setting a baseline of 40 wind tunnel runs a week for 2021, Mercedes is permitted just 90 per cent of this total - 36.
In contrast, Williams, who finished last in the constructors' standings, can complete 112.5 per cent of the number and run 45 simulations.
In a Mercedes YouTube video, Allison explained: "Another maybe slightly smaller aspect of the new regulations is that we have now, for the first time, an allowance of the use of our wind tunnels that varies from competitor to competitor.
"We have, for many years now, been limited in the amount that we were allowed to use the wind tunnel and the CFD.
"The limit in the past has always been the same for all competitors, whereas for 2021 that has changed and now we get a different allowance depending on how successful we were in the previous season.
"So, the way this regulation works is that basically the last-placed team in 2020 is allowed to use their wind tunnel about 20 per cent more than the first-placed team, and everyone in between is on a sliding scale between that 20 per cent and what the first-placed team gets.
"We were lucky enough to be good last year and, unfortunately, we pay the price for that a little bit in 2021 and beyond because we get to use less of that fundamental asset, the wind tunnel and the CFD computers compared to our competitors."
From next year, the championship-winning team will face a steeper climb as they will be permitted just 70 per cent of the baseline figure, 28 simulations per week.
The seventh-place team will receive the full allocation of 40 runs - numbers increasing by five per cent between teams - while the 10th-place team, or a new entry, is granted 115 per cent of the number.
This means the lowest finishing team this year could complete up to 46 CFD or wind tunnel sessions per week in 2022 - 18 more than the champions.
Allison added: "For us, the challenge has been, how do we react to this new regulation in the most positive way? How can we make sure that we don't get tripped up by it?
"The challenge has been, well if we are not allowed to use as much of our wind tunnel and our CFD as we were previously how could we adapt our world so that we get more and more out of every single opportunity in that wind tunnel.
"We only got one run in the wind tunnel, let's make that run as valuable to us as possible. If we are only allowed to do a small amount of CFD calculation, let's make it so that the methodology and approach to those CFD calculations are as valuable as possible.
"So, we've tried to adapt our approach to this, so we mitigate and maybe even completely offset the effect of this reduction in the amount that we are allowed to use these fundamental tools."
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