The stricter aero rules and the further cost cap, which will take effect from the 2022 Formula 1 season, are intended to noticeably reduce the gap between the top and the rear seats. The world association FIA even assumes that the gap could close by half after the first year.
“I think the gap between the best and the worst teams is currently around three seconds, depending on the track,” explains Nikolas Tombazis, FIA Technical Director. “I hope that in a year we will have less than half of that. I would like that, but we have to wait and see.”
The sport will usher in a whole new rule era this season with the return of ground effect, designed to tighten races and level the field. Even if it is still too early to know whether this will actually happen, those responsible are optimistic that the set of rules will take effect.
FIA wants more teams fighting for victories
The gap between the top teams and those in the bottom places is likely to be quite large, especially at the beginning of the 2022 season. But the gap is expected to close fairly quickly once teams have a better understanding of the new regulations and where they can improve.
“It is difficult to assume that it will be more exciting than 2021 because that is a very high reference point,” Tombazis refers to the spectacle that last year’s title fight offered. “But I think once there is some convergence there will be more cars in the mix and that would be positive.”
“Looking at some old championships I read recently that we once had 11 winners in a year and you could win a championship with a couple of wins. I’m not saying we’re going to get to that point, but of course I think that greater variability would be good,” says the FIA technical director.
Vasseur: Midfield will be even more compact
In this context, Tombazis also hopes that the new cars will no longer suffer as much from the problem of “dirty air” (air turbulence from the vehicle in front) and that the drivers “can drive up close without the tires overheating, and thus still be able to to fight for long periods of time”.
His prediction of a tighter field is backed by Alfa Romeo team principal Fred Vasseur, who believes the midfield could be particularly compact: “Certainly Mercedes, Red Bull and even Ferrari will still have a big advantage in terms of technology, resources etc. have, that’s out of the question for me.”
“But if you look a little further back, between P4/P5 and P9, you could be in Q3 from one race to the next, or P18 in qualifying. That means that if you go in the right direction and you a little bit improved here and there, can make a good step forward.”