The Milton Keynes-based team was locked in a tight fight with Mercedes until the final round of this year for both the drivers’ and constructors’ championship crowns – with honours being split between the two outfits.
But while Red Bull and Mercedes were kept on their toes to the end, other squads like Ferrari made a much earlier complete shift of resources to work on their 2022 challengers.
And that head start, with the new rules being in their infancy, could open the door for those teams that went early to enjoy an advantage from the off.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner is optimistic that his squad got the balance between work on 2021 and 2022 right – but is equally aware that a final judgement on if its prospects did get hurt can only be made at the first race next year.
“When Ferrari turn up with the fastest car and smash us out of the park at the first race then you’ll have to say that it probably did [compromise us],” he said.
“But I think that we’ve all known that big regulation changes are coming for 2022 and we’ve applied our resource accordingly.
“I’m sure each team has done what they feel is right and it’s put pressure on the organisation, of course. But that’s where I think the team have been outstanding, because to keep a development rate on a new set of regulations and keep a focus on this year’s car has taken a monumental effort. The commitment shown by all of the team, throughout the team, has been phenomenal.
“But we will only see when we come back in a couple of months’ time, with completely new cars. They look different, they’re going to feel different, they’re going to drive differently – and who’s got it right, who’s got it wrong? It all starts again.”
George Russell, Mercedes W10 Mule
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff reckoned that as well as rivals benefiting from an early development focus, the weighted aero handicap system – that allows more windtunnel and CFD work for teams further down the order – could further mix things up.
“We are all operating under the same financial cap and the concepts are very new,” he said.
“Then what was introduced is the aerodynamic regulations, where teams based on their standing in the championship had a little bit more allowance.
“So it’s pretty much possible that teams who hadn’t competed for the world championship this year, whether it’s Ferrari, McLaren or Aston Martin or Alpine are capable of coming up with the intelligent concepts based on much more runs than everybody else and just doing it very right.
“I think we need to expect much closer fighting for championships and races than we had before, and that’s exciting.”