After opting not to develop a mule car for next month’s post-season Abu Dhabi test, Williams has admitted that it will start Formula 1 testing in 2022 “on the back foot.”
Teams will get their first proper opportunity to evaluate new 18-inch wheels at the Yas Marina circuit in the days following the season finale, as F1 prepares for the arrival of all-new cars and tyres next year.
Teams will get to run with the new tyres on mule cars that have had their suspension adapted to deal with the larger wheels as part of the annual two-day rookie test.
However, Williams has decided not to build a mule car specifically for the Abu Dhabi test, and hence will be absent from the event entirely.
Williams head of vehicle performance Dave Robson said: “Unfortunately we won’t be doing anything. We won’t be running there as we don’t have a mule car and that stops us from running at the test.
“My understanding is if you don’t have a mule car then you are not entitled to do the test. So we won’t be there.”
The decision not to develop a mule car was decided for financial reasons, according to Robson, with Williams not satisfied that the value of running at the Abu Dhabi test was worth the cost of constructing a bespoke car.
With the Abu Dhabi test being the only chance for teams to try out the tyres before the first pre-season test next year, Robson is confident that Williams will be behind its rivals in terms of knowledge.
He is confident, though, that there will be plenty of time to catch up before the 2022 campaign begins.
When asked how much of a disadvantage Robson believes not running in the Abu Dhabi test would be, he replied, “We haven’t done any exercise to put numbers on it.”
“We know that the mule car would have been beneficial but unfortunately, at the time we had to commit to that, we just didn’t have the resource to do it.
“It was a decision that was made an awful long time ago and we can’t do anything about it.
“What will we ultimately lose? We will start winter testing probably a little bit on the back foot I would think.
“But I would hope that if the car is running well, we should be able to catch up quickly.
“We would like be at the test but we are not. Ultimately though, we won’t be far behind once the races start.”
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