Under F1’s aerodynamic handicap system, successful teams have less windtunnnel and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) testing. 

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The higher a team finishes in the constructors’ championship, the fewer windtunnel runs and aerodynamic research can be carried out during the following season. 

After finishing a disappointing seventh last year, Aston Martin made an incredible leap over the winter to emerge as Red Bull’s nearest competitors at the start of 2023. 

1996 world champion Hill believes that additional testing time would give Mercedes, who leapfrogged Aston Martin into P2 at the Spanish Grand Prix, a better chance of catching Red Bull heading into 2024. 

“Going forward, you’ve got the development curve and the cost cap restrictions to think about,” Hill told the Sky Sports F1 Podcast. 

“Ironically, the better Mercedes do the less scope they’ve got for the following year. 

“So you’ve got Aston Martin who are benefitting if you like from a poor performance relatively from last year. The glass ceiling is much higher for them.

“You kind of wonder whether Mercedes ought to be thinking about doing really badly between now and the end of the year. 

“I think when you’ve got the budget and you can spent it but you can’t because you did so well the previous season, then it kind of makes you wonder whether you ought to do really badly. 

“If you’re not going to win this year, you want to win next year.”

But Hill acknowledged: “They’ll be accountants and all sorts of experts who are going to tell me that’s an absolutely stupid policy and strategy! 

“But it’s something that occurred to me. It’s the sort of question you ask.”

And Hill reckons that Mercedes will see this year as a ‘victory’ if they can establish themselves as Red Bull’s main threat by the end of the campaign. 

"To overhaul Red Bull before the end of the season is going to be very difficult," he added. 

"I think if they manage to firmly establish themselves as 'the threat' going into 2024 by the end of the season then they will consider that a victory.”