Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff says F1's changing landscape means a repeat of his side's recent dominance will be impossible to achieve. Mercedes won all but one available championship title between 2014 and 2021, with only Max Verstappen's narrow Drivers' title win in 2021 preventing the Silver Arrows from an eight-year clean sweep. But with F1's recently-installed budget cap and restrictions on wind tunnel time preventing the sport's bigger teams from fully flexing their financial muscles, Wolff says a similar lengthy domination from one team is unlikely. "I think you just need to play a better game than the others," Wolff told media including RacingNews365.com . "It's a relative competition, and we know who our competitors are today, there will be others tomorrow and after tomorrow because of the cost cap limits that have been set, and this is what the sport should be, not one team, not three, but maybe five [in title contention], and the landscape has changed. "I don't think that anybody will run away with eight championships in a row going forward, and this is the way the regulations have been designed."
Championship positions are key
Mercedes' recent successes mean the team have been hit with Aerodynamic Testing Restrictions [ATR] over the past two seasons, after Formula 1 introduced a sliding scale last year based on a team's finishing position in the Constructors' Championship. That meant Mercedes were permitted fewer wind tunnel runs and less CFD than any other team, with a five percent difference between positions. Having finished third in the 2022 championship, Mercedes will have 80 percent of the allotted time, equating to 256 wind tunnel runs. Second-placed Ferrari will have 75 percent of the time, and title-winning Red Bull are facing just 63 percent, having had their allowance reduced further by the drinks-backed squad's penalty for breaching F1's cost cap. Asked whether it was more difficult for teams to close down the leaders under the budget cap, Wolff replied in the affirmative. "I think it's harder because you can't really invest more in order for the outcome to come quicker," Wolff told media, including RacingNews365.com . "But I think how the aerodynamic regulations are designed, and the penalty that they've gotten, it's 25 percent less wind tunnel [time] and that can have an effect. "The way that the regulations, the wind tunnel or ATR restrictions, have been set in place allows teams that are further back to really make a big jump compared to the front runners. "That’s also the reason why we will see much closer championships in the future because if you are last you will have 50 percent more, 40 percent more. "So, clearly that is an advantage we have to utilise. Is it a given that we can utilise it? Who knows?"