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martes, septiembre 26, 2023
HomeCarsFormula 1's CEO Pretty Much Concedes The Season To Red Bull

Formula 1’s CEO Pretty Much Concedes The Season To Red Bull

It is somewhat funny that lots of people who previously had no interest in Formula 1 and are now watching and being treated to one of the least competitive Formula 1 seasons in decades. Red Bull, seven races in, have won each and every one, via Max Verstappen or Sergio Pérez. This trend doesn’t look like its ending any time soon, unless both of them happen to have a bad race at the same time — not at all outside the realm of possibility, and one reason no team has ever won every race wire-to-wire.

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Still, the spectacle is nonexistent, with the question every race weekend of who else will finish on the podium. Fernando Alonso has been a pleasant surprise in this regard, and Mercedes has turned in an improved effort this season compared to last, but no one has really tested Red Bull and at this juncture that doesn’t seem to be changing.

In some very dark corners of Formula 1 fandom, some are wondering whether the rules might be changed midseason to allow for better competition at the top. The answer is no, because that’d be ridiculous, but the idea got enough traction for F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali to be asked about it in Formula 1’s official podcast this week, Beyond The Grid.

[Tom Clarkson]: Has changing the regulations mid-season crossed your mind to slow Red Bull down?

[Stefano Domenicali]: I think it is not fair to say that, because we cannot be seen as a sport of manipulation. This is not correct and this is not fair. I’m not envisioning at all, this kind of approach.

TC: The best thing you can do is just leave the regulations the same and allow everyone to converge at the top?

SD: I think that’s the right approach, because the rules have been changed not many years ago and, therefore, this will happen for sure.

TC: Could more be done to help the teams at the back? Could you give them even more wind tunnel time?

SD: This is something that is a change of framework on the sporting dimension, which is not fair. F1 has always been a sport where there have been cycles, where teams were very dominant and then some others came into the equation. Our objective should be to make sure that these cycles in the future will be shorter. This is what I would say, as a commercial rights holder but also as a lover of sport, I would like to see.

Domenicali also conceded that, sure, Red Bull is dominant, but some other teams are close, believe it or not. The battle for all of the places behind Red Bull could even be fun to watch, he says.

TC: When we look at 2023, it seems to me that the gaps in the field are bigger than we were expecting, given the new regulations were brought in to close the field up. How surprised are you that that’s happened?

SD: I think that the gap is between one team and the others, while the others are very, very close. Red Bull did an incredible job and this is a job of meritocracy. It is true that the gap seems to be big, but we need to be prudent because we know in life that things can change very quickly. The others are very, very close if you look at the gaps. I think they did an incredible job and that needs to be rewarded. What we want to do is make sure that this gap will stay as small as possible. I’m sure that the other teams are watching how they can catch up with their development in the context of the budget cap. It will be interesting to see if the development curve of the team that is leading will slow down, because at the end of the day they did a better job in the shorter term. That will be very interesting to see in the next couple of months.

Now, for the discerning Formula 1 fan, the battles for second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth — the points places — are certainly their own interesting competition, and it makes me smile whenever Alonso does well, because he and I are roughly the same age, which is old. But also: no one wants to see a procession, which is what it feels like at the moment, with just a third of the season gone.

It’s not that there haven’t been midseason rules changes in the past — there certainly have been plenty, for varying reasons — it’s more that in the past they were usually done in response to more pressing problems than one team simply being more dominant than the rest.

This is also, I suppose, a good education for newer Formula 1 fans, who may not be accustomed to boring rules debates or simply boring seasons, because they didn’t have the self-loathing required to watch Formula 1 in the Michael Schumacher years. Red Bull will be the constructor champion this year, for better or worse, and even F1’s CEO knows it, and then next year we’ll start all over again and hope for something more interesting to happen.

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