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Lewis Hamilton's chances of winning an eighth F1 title look set to take a major hit following the sport's decision to impose a £103m budget cap on Mercedes.
New rules which come into force this season seek to limit teams' spending in a move which could spell the end of Mercedes and Hamilton's dominance at the front of the grid.
The German manufacturers have won the last seven constructors titles and are understood to have spent four times the new £103m cap last season alone.
Hamilton is responsible for the majority of those successes having won six drivers' world championships since joining Mercedes from McLaren in 2013.
He has won seven drivers' crowns in total and will surpass Michael Schumacher as F1's most successful driver if he can win an eighth title later this year.
But new caps mean his car is unlikely to receive the same attention as before leaving his chances hanging in the balance before the season has even begun.
Mercedes are not the only team who are set to lose out over the new restrictions, with the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull also set to rein in their spending.
Alfa Romeo sporting director Beat Zehnder reckons it's a move which should level up the F1 playing field, although changes may not happen instantly.
When questioned by Auto Motor und Sport over whether new restrictions will have an affect, he said: "Yes, but not for 2022.
"We are very efficient. If I look at and compare the employee list of all teams, then we have always had very few employees on the racetrack.
"However, the benefit will only be felt in 2023 and 2024. The big teams won't fire their 300 to 400 people overnight.
"They will use the transition phase to develop the new cars for 2022 with more resources and personnel.
"The rich teams have always had an advantage when the regulations were changed.
"With this processes, however, it can be that the large teams will find it more difficult in the adjustment phase than the teams that do not have to change anything."
Hamilton's world title chances aren't the only thing in the balance either, with the British driver still unable to agree on a new contract for the coming season.
A deal is reportedly close to being done, but with the new season starting in just over one month, it's less than ideal preparation for the sport's number one star.
- Lewis Hamilton
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