Mercedes is looking to be the first team in recent times to maintain an advantage through a major rule change when Formula One's aerodynamic regulations get overhauled this winter.
The last two seismic changes to F1's technical regulations have put an end to periods of dominance for certain teams and brought about new eras of dominance in the sport. Big changes to the aerodynamic regulations in 2009 saw 2008's title protagonists Ferrari and McLaren flounder and Brawn GP emerge as champions with an innovative double diffuser concept. Once the double diffuser concept was copied by rivals and eventually banned, Red Bull emerged as F1's dominant force and win four consecutive titles until the last big regulation change in 2014. At that point Mercedes unlocked the most performance from the current V6 turbo engine regulations and has dominated F1 ever since.
Rivals are hoping the 2017 rule changes -- which will see wider cars, wider tyres and revised aerodynamic regulations -- will finally crack Mercedes' F1 hegemony, but the world champion's engineering director Aldo Costa sees an opportunity to buck the F1 trend.
"Of course, as you said, the regulation change will be pretty vast, on a lot of car aspects," he said in Monza. "We know we have in front of us this big, big challenge. We would love to be the team that is breaking exactly that rule -- that with the new rules there are new leaders. We would like really to break this rule, but it is tough."
Although the chassis regulations are changing dramatically, the engine regulations remain unchanged, meaning Mercedes should retain its power unit advantage. At the Belgian Grand Prix Mercedes brought another upgrade to its already class-leading power unit and, although it still has the scope to bring further updates under F1's engine token system, Costa said its V6 turbo is already a good basis for further development next year.
"We are evaluating further development [this year]. We are not yet finally decided on what to do, but we are working hard to find new items to develop for this year, with an engine that is anyway a very good base for next year's championship."