Mercedes claim there are no more upgrades planned for the W12, but Red Bull boss Christian Horner is not buying it.
It may well be a straight fight between Mercedes and Red Bull for the 2021 Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships, but with completely new cars coming for 2022, neither team can become too caught up in the title fight and risk falling behind next season, especially now that all teams are operating under a budget cap.
And so Mercedes principal Toto Wolff has stated that the current W12 will not be receiving any further facelifts, even though Red Bull are still developing their RB16B.
Mind games though have been ever-present between both teams this season, and Horner expects that Mercedes do indeed have more upgrades planned for the W12.
“We know Toto loves to throw the light somewhere else,” he told reporters at the Red Bull Ring.
“I cannot believe they’ll go through the rest of this year without putting a single component on the car.
“All we can do is focus on our own job. It’s a balancing act between this year and next year but if that means we’ve got to work a bit harder we’re fully up for it.
“You’re at the top of the curve with these cars and into marginal gains. When you look at the new car for next year, every time it goes through a development cycle it’s significant steps.
“It’s getting the balance right between marginal gains for this year and big steps for next year. But that’s no different to how it’s been in the past.”
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The momentum is firmly with Red Bull after Max Verstappen made it four wins on the bounce for the team as he dominated at the Styrian Grand Prix.
With that victory he stretched his lead over Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship to 18 points, while Red Bull will take a 40-point advantage over Mercedes into the Austrian GP, also to be held around the Red Bull Ring.
But while Red Bull do seem to have pulled ahead of Mercedes, Horner warned that this is not the time to slack off.
“To have won the last four races across the types of circuits we’ve had is the best run we’ve had since 2013,” he explained.
“We’re back here next weekend and we saw last year that even though you had two races at the same circuit the second race can be quite different to the first – track conditions, weather, etc.
“We’ve just got to take each race one by one and try to optimise our performance.”
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