Toto Wolff claims 2021 F1 regulations intended to hurt Mercedes

The Mercedes team principal suggested that the floor changes to assist Pirelli in 2021 were intended to stop his team dominating F1

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Toto Wolff has claimed the 2021 Formula 1 regulations intended to pull Mercedes back into the pack, following their dominant 2020 F1 season.

The Silver Arrows took 15 pole positions and won 13 races in the reduced 17-event calendar in 2020, as the W11 proved to be an all-conquering combination of downforce and power.

But for 2021 life at Brackley changed as they began pre-season testing on the backfoot, struggling to understand the W12‘s rear-end behaviour as the regulations changed.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen went head-to-head in a classic season, with the Red Bull driver controversially becoming the first non-Mercedes champion since 2013.

“I think we probably lost the 2021 drivers’ championship for many reasons,” Wolff told select members of the press, including Total-Motorsport.com.

“One was the final race but we also lost it because those regulations were set in place in order to reduce the advantage that we had.

“2020 was a super dominant year for us, I think the best car we’ve ever had, but then towards the end of the season they changed the regs by cutting the floor out, and that was to stop us.

“You can see the results in 2021, we were not as competitive as Red Bull. At Silverstone, we unlocked more of the potential of the car and got ourselves back into the championship. But back in the day, these regs were clearly targeted to re-establish the pecking order.”

The Austrian’s comments come as the grid calls for new regulations to end Red Bull‘s domination, despite a stubborn FIA and F1 combination refusing to do so.

Prior to the rules change Ross Brawn, then F1 managing director, said that teams would not find a “silver bullet” to gain an advantage.

Valtteri Bottas battles Max Verstappen at the 2021 Sao Paulo GP | Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Regardless, Red Bull have emerged a long way clear of the rest of the field having won 31 of the 36 races in the new era.

The result has left many teams calling for the FIA to reign in the current double-world champions to prevent the same kind of run Mercedes had from 2014-2020 from reoccurring.

How did the 2021 F1 rules change?

The capacity of the floor was reduced, as covid-19 delayed the change to the ground-effect era, with teams surrendering 10 percent of their overall downforce.

The reason given was that Pirelli hadn’t anticipated an extra year of old school cars and thus they became too fast for the tyres to handle – as witnessed at the 2020 British Grand Prix when three cars suffered a delamination.

However, what was supposed to be an even reduction had uneven consequences as the two teams running the low-rake philosophy, Aston Martin and Mercedes, significantly lost time to their rivals.

The low-rake concept related to the ride height of the car, more specifically the angle of the height from the front to the rear.

Lewis Hamilton in action during the 2021 Monaco GP, which was won by Max Verstappen | REUTERS/Eric Gaillard REFILE – CORRECTING ID

Low-rake, such as Mercedes, saw a smaller angle of change whilst the opposing high-rake of Red Bull was at a steeper angle.

The resulting changed dragged the two teams into a season-long title contest full of controversy.

Whilst Aston Martin was pulled from being the third fastest team to the seventh fastest, despite acquiring the talents of Sebastian Vettel.

The aggrievance from the team was so great that Otmar Szafnauer threatened to sue the FIA concerning the regulations changes, as Aston Martin believed the low-rake concept was unfairly targeted.

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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