Formula One’s bosses are having ongoing debates on how to best deal with the problem of rising inflation and the cost of living. As a consequence, teams are hesitant to keep investing in their cars’ upgrades until they get reassurance on the possibility of being in breach of the spending rules.
Despite being in the first half of the season, many teams have talked about the difficulty of staying within the newly imposed budget cap. McLaren, for example, has admitted being very close to breaking the current cap set at $140 million.
As a consequence of the reduced amount of money, McLaren’s team boss Andreas Seidl has revealed that the team has stopped working on any major developments to its MCL-36.
“Hopefully it is not just us who had to pull the handbrake in terms of further developments, due to the restrictions we're having mainly from the cost cap side,” explained Seidl, speaking about the work on improving the team’s car.
“But there are also the restrictions you have nowadays with further limited wind tunnel time, so you really need to be very careful with how you use your wind tunnel time.”
McLaren believes that, while major developments are on hold, it can still extract more pace from its current car through a better understanding of it and some minor tweaks.
“The main thing at the moment is still to try to unlock more performance from the package we are having. Then we need to see which further, let's say, small little changes to the car will come throughout the course of the season”
Although the team’s 2022 campaign hasn’t started off as expected, with McLaren having to deal with some brake problems suffered in pre-season testing, it has since made a decent recovery.
Seidl feels that this year’s car is a much better overall package than its 2021 challenger, with the team having made steps in addressing some of its key weaknesses, such as poor performance in low-speed corners.
“I think we made a good step forward in terms of some of the weaknesses last year, for example in the low speed,” he said.
“I definitely think that the car is now more suitable for all kinds of tracks. But at the same time, probably also, with these cars also being so new, you still see big swings between all the different cars we are battling with from track to track.
“One weekend you are the third or fourth fastest team, and then the next week you're suddenly qualifying the seventh fastest team.
“Also, if you look at our side, I think the season so far definitely is a bit of an up and down one. Difficult starts for the known reasons and really strong weekends in Melbourne and Imola. Then more challenging weekends before the strong Monaco weekend in terms of performance.
“We have to improve to just be more consistently at the top of the midfield.”