Mercedes technical director James Allison says that the new rules being introduced to F1 for 2020 will have far-ranging consequences, setting the future direction of the sport for years to come.
The sport has signed off on a number of new regulations to help the survive the financial battering caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.
They include a reduction to the overall budget cap, and a sliding scale for aerodynamic testing and development that will give more time to backmarker teams compared to those at the front of the grid.
Mercedes is likely to be one of the teams most handicapped by the new system. However, Allison explained that it could also work to their advantage by fixing the current status for several seasons ahead.
“This regulation is being introduced next year so it will start in 2021," Allison says in the latest F1 Nation podcast from the official Formula1.com website.
"But actually consider what that means: in 2021, we're all going to be running cars that are largely frozen, carried over cars from 2020.
“Our significant axis of work in 2021 is going to be on preparing this new generation car for 2022, and so the large majority of the aerodynamics that you can afford to invest in 2021 are going to be on the following season, 2022.
“So the amount of aerodynamics you can bring to bear for 2022 – 2022 remember – is going to be determined by how good you were in 2020," he pointed out.
Allison said that this would result in an "entirely new 'blank sheet of paper' car, which has got nothing to do whatsoever with the current generation of cars.
"Your fortune in that championship is to some extent influenced by just how strong you were in 2020, two seasons previously. That's a really laggy feedback system.
“I guess that's the nature of the challenge. But it's maybe not as obvious on first reading of those regulations, just how long the shadow is that they cast.”
But Allison rejected suggestions that the restrictions on aerodynamic testing would be to be anti-innovation.
"However many runs you've got, however much CFD you're permitted to bring to bear, the incentive to be innovative is going to be ever-present.
"It's not anti-innovation," he insisted. "[It offers more] opportunity to a team that has more overall aerodynamic testing granted to them than to one who is more restricted.
"The one who is more restricted is going to have to work super smart in order to keep up performance, relative to the ones who are less restricted.”