F1’s chief Ross Brawn has admitted that two podiums scored in the 41 races from the last two seasons for the midfield teams is ‘unacceptable’.
The last two F1 seasons has been hugely difficult for the midfield teams with only two teams and drivers able to score podium finishes when at the same time the 2016 season saw four from the smaller teams in one full year.
Last year, it was Williams’ Lance Stroll in the Azerbaijan GP while this year it was Racing Point Force India’s Sergio Perez at the same venue – courtesy of an up and down race. The gap between the Top 3 F1 teams and the rest of the field has been huge.
To simplify, Red Bull Racing, who finished third this year, scored a total of 419 points while at the same time, the fourth placed Renault scored only 122. They were a whopping 297 points behind Red Bull with a best finish fifth place.
In 2017, the gap was still acceptable with Red Bull and Force India separated by 181 points. This year, even in races the Top 6 positions were known to filled up by the leading drivers – even if they start from behind or have a poor start on Lap 1.
The gap is something which has been talked about mostly all season long. F1’s chief Brawn admitted that it is something which is not acceptable, which is why together with the teams and the FIA, they are trying to find solutions as early as possible.
“To the teams outside the to three, they were practically racing in their own championship, with far too big a performance gap between them and Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull,” wrote Brawn in his post-race column.
“As was the case in 2017, only once and significantly, on a very unusual street circuit like Baku, did a driver from one of those seven teams make it to the podium. Last year it was Lance Stroll in the Williams, this time it was Sergio Perez for Force India.
Two podiums from a total of 123 is unacceptable, especially when it comes with an ever increasing technical and financial divide. It’s a problem we are tackling together with the FIA and the teams, because the future of Formula 1 depends on it.
“There are various solutions on the table and we must all accept that we can’t go on like this for too much longer. I don’t mean to cause offence by referring to the ‘other’ championship.
“It’s just a way of describing the situation and their battle was certainly thrilling. However, it’s hard for the fans to truly get excited about a battle for eighth place. Having said that, congratulations to Renault for finishing fourth.
“Confirming the progress it is making and to Haas, as finishing fifth in only your third year in the sport is a great achievement. Sauber fought back after struggling for the previous two years, partly thanks to the talents of Leclerc.
“But a special word goes out to the men and women of Force India who worked hard all season without letting themselves get distracted by the serious problems that affected the company and threatened its very existence.
“I think that managing to keep Force India on the grid and assuring it a stable future is one of the most important things that happened in 2018.” Brawn stressed on the changes to brought upon in 2019 which is building towards the bigger change in 2021.
Although the FIA is hopeful that the wider front wing and changes to the brake ducts will help the drivers to be closer to the cars ahead in a battle, however, some of the teams are not very optimistic with many stating that it will not bring the desired change.
“Making F1 more spectacular doesn’t just depend on the sport being in good health financially, even more important are the technical and sporting regulations,” he wrote. “We are also working very hard on this with the other stakeholders.
“But even in 2018 we took some important steps forward. I’m referring in particular to the changes introduced in the spring relating to the 2019 aero rules aimed at making it easier for drivers to do battle on track.
“These changes are part of a wider work on the rules for 2021, but when we saw the chance to bring forward some of them we did so so as to check out its effect already next year and, if necessary, make some modifications.
“In three seasons’ time we will see very different looking cars. In Singapore we showed some of these concepts and one of the most obvious changes was the size of the tyres which will go from 13 to 18 inches.
“Last Sunday in Abu Dhabi, we announced that this fundamental move, which sees tyre diameter change for the first time since the 1960s, will go ahead with Pirelli, which has been the championship’s sole tyre supplier since 2011.
“It’s important to have stability in an area so vital to the behaviour of the cars. Pirelli has done a very good job over the past years, trying to satisfy everyone’s demands and putting in a lot of effort to make the sport more spectacular and enjoyable.
“The first steps for the future have therefore been taken, but there’s still a lot to do in the coming crucial months.” It remains to be seen how the racing goes in 2019 and if the performance gap is bridged which seems difficult at the moment.