Mercedes stopped developing 2020 F1 car "a long time ago"
Mercedes has won 9 of the 11 races so far this season and is well on its way to winning both championships for the seventh time in a row. The drivers occupy first and second place in the drivers' standings.
But Red Bull seemed to be taking a step towards Mercedes' level of performance at last weekend's Eifel Grand Prix after bringing a number of updates to its RB16 car to the race.
Max Verstappen took provisional pole before the final rounds in the third quarter and was able to stay close to the Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in the early stages of the race.
Teammate Alexander Albon also said he thought Red Bull was "a lot closer" to Mercedes thanks to its latest updates.
The update package brings Red Bull Mercedes “much closer” and is not a “game changer” for Mercedes at the Nürburgring
Mercedes has not released any updates to its W11 car for some races. Team boss Wolff said it stopped its development some time ago.
"We completed [the updates] a long time ago, and that was always in the past," said Wolff.
"What we've looked at is a very carefully considered decision because you can't afford to close the book early in every championship.
"But the rules have changed quite a bit for next year and in that regard, as in previous years, we decided to switch to next year's car."
"That's why you can see the changing performance between the teams. We always have a very strong start and a very strong mid-season, and whoever develops further is strong in the end."
Although the vehicles for 2020 will largely be carried over to 2021 as part of a cost-saving measure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, teams can develop certain areas of the chassis via a token system.
Wolff's thoughts were confirmed by Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’s technical director, who acknowledged that Red Bull is progressing faster at the moment.
"I think they're developing faster than we are at the moment," said Shovlin.
"And we've seen that little by little. But to be honest, we've seen them not start off as strong as we do for most of the past few years. I can't think of a year lately that they're 'me wasn't with us until the end.
"So if we see this trend continue, the remaining races will be tougher and it will be more difficult to get pole on Saturday and win on Sunday."
With the kind permission of Verstappen, Red Bull achieved a single race victory this year at the Grand Prix for the 70th anniversary and is 180 points behind Mercedes in the constructors' championship.
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