Carlos Sainz Jnr, Renault, Yas Marina, 2018

Formula 1 cannot go on like this, warns Brawn

2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Formula 1’s managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn has warned the wide gap in performance between the top three teams in the rest is “unacceptable”.

Brawn pointed out just two podium finishes in the last two years were scored by a team other than Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull.

“Two podiums from a total of 123 is unacceptable,” said Brawn, “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.”

Formula One Management is planning technical and sporting changes for the 2021 season which will include the introduction of a budget gap to improve the competition between the largest and smallest teas.

“There are various solutions on the table and we must all accept that we can’t go on like this for too much longer,” said Brawn, who said those not in the top three teams were “practically racing in their own championship”.

“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.”

No driver from outside the top three teams completed a racing lap inside the top two positions all year. The top three teams scored over 77% of the available points this year.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 103 comments on “Formula 1 cannot go on like this, warns Brawn”

    1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      28th November 2018, 12:39

      I think Ross nails it.
      How to reduce the gap is the problem. Budgets caps seem unworkable and what would be the point in them anyway? It would just be a financial exercise and it should be a sport. The only sensible solution is to reduce the technologies allowed. In many areas the only way to do this would be extremely tight regulation or spec parts. Indycar had to bite the bullet years ago and although F1 has done well to fight it off this long, perhaps now is the time

      1. In many areas the only way to do this would be extremely tight regulation or spec parts.

        And this would be the beginning of the end of F1, IMHO.

        F1 is not a spec series, and should never become one. It should always push technology forwards.

        The problem of the disparity between the top 3 and the rest can be overcome without resorting to destroying the very essence of the series. A good starting point would be an equitable distribution of funds. Budget caps may also work, but they’ll be difficult to implement and police. Bringing the sport back to FTA TV would also help by increasing sponsorship revenue.

        In short, the massive difference in car performance between the top 3 teams and the rest mostly comes down to money. Sort out the money, and the problem will at least new a long way towards being fixed.

        1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
          28th November 2018, 14:37

          F1 cannot go on as it is. That’s what Ross thinks. Essence included. F1 is being killed by its essence!

          Two of the biggest performance differentiators are spec parts already. The ECU and Tyres. A few more wouldn’t hurt.
          As for “sorting out the money”… really? Like that’s going to happen and even if it did whats to stop someone with megabucks from outside the sport weighing in? A budget cap? There’s no way they can work. Too easy to do some creative accounting. I don’t want creative accountants let loose!
          I can just hear the scrutineer now “Yeah you can put the car on the track I’m afraid, your rear wing isn’t too wide but we are missing the receipt!”

          …Sorry ranting facetiously. Excuse me.

          I guess what I mean is we need a seismic shift if F1 philosophy for the next decade and for this century to come. F1 no longer needs to be the cutting edge of technology. It’s too expensive for the average competitor and besides Aeronautics and Aerospace are the places for this. Not a sport.

          Soon F1 won’t be road relevant anymore, we will all have electric cars.

          The best solution of all is to legislate a level playing field where all of the competitors have a chance to win.

          That is the very definition of sport.

          1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
            28th November 2018, 14:38

            correction **** can‘t put the car on the track ****

            1. Read my lips – no more spec parts. Tire war, engine war, different form factors and aero solutions, jet engines, you name it. Mess it up and invite wild solutions. They’re in a cage now soon to become a complete spec series á la Indycar.

            2. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
              29th November 2018, 8:44

              Whats the point? You’ll just get a swarm of high tech hornets buzzing around the track with no hope of overtaking and the same winner every time. Plus there isn’t enough money from sponsors and manufacturers to support this… oh hang on a minute, tongue in cheek! You are stirring up a hornets nest. Very good.
              Perhaps the track could be to Mars and back with three orbits of the moon!!

          2. Ferrari are getting more money than anybody even when they aren’t winning the championship if they we’re getting the right money for being 2nd or 3rd and the rest spread out between the mid field it would help them to get higher Ferrari have been getting big money for a lot of years and they haven’t earned it this would make a big difference to the smaller teams and would help F1

        2. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
          29th November 2018, 10:03

          And this would be the beginning of the end of F1, IMHO.

          Just cannot get behind opinions such as this tbh, and I have been watching F1 for 20 years since I was a kid so would count myself as a ‘real fan’

          When watching on TV, what difference does it make to you whether the Red Bull has discovered 0.67 degree of rake improves traction by 1.2% countered by the Mercedes which burns 0.whatever more oil to make it up on the straights, we just want to see the bloody things going wheel to wheel!

          If F1 continues to stick to it’s ‘essence’ then we may as well just run simulations instead of actual races because the increase in technology has very much contributed to an increase in predictability!

          And F1 does not have a duty to ‘push technology forward’ – the world of the MP4/1 was very different to the world of today. Yes that car introduced new innovations in carbon fibre manufacturing but that was when f1 was one of the few industries where these innovations COULD be discovered / invested in and researched. Now the advances in the world are predicated upon sustainability / reducing carbon emissions and so on and so forth, material sciences are researched at a much higher level than F1 could possibly keep up with. A gearbox that weighs 3g less than last years model isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference to the next P1 or LaFerrari successor, there’s a ceiling to how much more ‘hyper’ these hypercars can get!

          So in conclusion, just make the racing closer! Dumb it down a little if need be, you won’t see it on TV but you will see talents like Kubica and Ocon and the Hulk mixing it with the leaders instead of scrapping over 9th place!

          1. Whilst I agree with you, the problem is that the essence of f1 means different things to different people. To many people it’s about innovation above all else – even close racing. Which I can understand

      2. Simplify the front wings and ban other aero parts outside the shape of the body itself. All the crazy, super large and complex front wings are a huge part of the costs…both directly from the wings themselves, PLUS all the testing and analysis of how they affect the rest of the car “down stream”. Make them smaller (160cm wide) with only 3 “elements” and the total size of those elements can’t be more than 200 cm^2 per side.
        No more barge boards, turning veins, etc. One standard floor that provides MORE downforce than today and no deviations. No holes, slots, edges turned up, down, whatever.
        The manufacturers can’t use different engine maps than their customer teams.
        Produce a standard exhaust length, position, etc to stop ANY exhaust blown aero.

        Take away all that crap where only the richest teams can afford to blow an extra $100M in expenses and you’d see a huge drop in the distance from the top teams to the midfield.

        1. You’ll also see a huge drop in how many teams enter that years championship

          The manufacturers will never agree to that

        2. So make it like Indy car? Yeah, no way! I am already getting less and less excited by F1 every year (20+ races is TOO MANY!), but if they go further away from being a technology-driven thing (I don’t really consider it a ‘sport’) I will certainly lose more interest. The idea that things can just be cut until its better is just flat out silly. Restrictionist policies always fail and never induce growth.

          1. @bl0rq
            I completely disagree. Assuming that limiting the ability to do outrageous aero spending would somehow lead to Indy car is alarmist and not at all close to reality. They can still tweak the aero on the front and rear wings, it just wouldn’t be the difference in 2 seconds per lap, but more like 2 TENTHS per lap.
            This would allow teams to focus on areas in the suspension and mechanical side where the cars could follow more closely and we’d get more passing.

            The manufacturers could still compete on the most horse power, torque, size/weight of the engine and efficiency which would allow them to carry less fuel. They could also focus on the turbos and the KERS systems.

            All I’m suggesting is to cut down on the effectiveness of spending LITERALLY $100-$200 million dollars on aero which not only splits the teams so badly, but also prevents passing and wheel to wheel racing.

            As it stands today, we have SIX cars competing…and really it’s only 4 most races. The other cars are nothing more than obstacles they drive around when they lap them half way through the race. I have no interest in watching a 4-6 car race.

    2. improve the competition between the largest and smallest teas

      I don’t know about you Keith, but to me each blend has it’s own value on my kitchen shelf, you never know when you might want a specific cuppa.

      1. It does solve a terminology issue though. We can now simply refer to Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull as ‘First Flush’, the rest being ‘Second Flush’.

        1. Is this what they call ‘toilet humour’…? ;-)

          1. Frankly, toilet humour isn’t really my cup of tea. It was in fact meant as a reference to the current two-tea-ered championship.

      2. The dominance of the big brands has been brew-tal. The dregs may never win a cup under current rules. It takes the biscuit.
        Ross Brawn, you hint at much but when will you deliver? Such a teas!

      3. And there is no need to introduce a “budget gap”, they already have that.

    3. Still waiting on the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’.

    4. I’m not a fan of trying to cap budgets especially as some portion of it (money from sponsors) is based in part on how well the team performs. A large number of spec parts is not likely to fly as this is a constructors series and the ability to design one’s own car is an integral part of why teams like Mercedes and Ferrari are in the sport. Which is where the real issue lies. Does anyone really wonder why a team like Force India can’t design and build a car as well as Mercedes? A part of this issue is that the top design talent will always migrate toward those who can pay the most and those who can offer the best and possibly most high tech work place. Perhaps the answer is to cap the salaries of the design staff in hopes that once money is off the table some will choose to work for smaller teams.

    5. Firstly stop giving the top teams so much more money. If they want an even playing field then that’s the first place to start. Right now giving tens of millions more to the top teams is the equivalent of financial doping.

      Then set the budget cap to a realistic amount. People say it won’t work but why not at least try? Of course teams will try and hide outgoings but FIA will surely appoint specialist accountants. And introducing massive fines for breaches and rewards for whistle blowing should help.

      How much should budget cap be I’m not sure but look at the excellent work done by Force India over the last couple of seasons on their meagre budget. Does anyone really think the sport would be worse off if every team had their budget and ran at their performance level? If you can afford to throw hundreds of millions of dollars at the team every year, to recruit thousands of staff members, then you’ll always rise to the top but I think Formula One should be about ingenuity and creativity not about who’s got the most money.

      1. People say it won’t work but why not at least try?

        The reason people say it won’t work is because Car Manufacturers – for argument’s sake, let’s go with Mercedes, but I’m not singling them out – Mercedes could open up a factory, claim it’s a part of their manufacturing process for their road car division, churn out a few SL Blacks from it (I don’t know how merc names their road cars, so forgive me) and meanwhile be pouring millions into R&D that takes place there for “future road car technologies” but what we all know is F1. The Fia are turned away at the door if they try to inspect it, and the ideas filter across as staff from that factory are cycled into the F1 team.

        Hey, I’ve got a great idea, look, I sketched out this 255 page technical document on the shape of front wings just last night.

        1. I get what you are saying but staff ,including drivers, don’t stay at teams forever. All it takes is a driver or an engineer to leave under a cloud and the whole jig is up. The first thing an engineer joining Ferrari from Mercedes would do is spill the beans about how they are cheating. Ferrari would be on the phone to the FIA: “Hey there’s a 255 page technical document on the shape of front wings that was created at a mercedes road car factory”

          So you’ve got forensic accountants poring over every single inch of your team and the risk of a whistleblower pointing them in the right direction. Would a team risk it? Maybe, but a fraud on the scale you suggest would be enormous. Remember the headlines when McLaren were fined $100m? It was in every newspaper everywhere. How would the Mercedes board like that? It would probably end their participation in F1.

        2. So budget gap won’t work because you think it won’t work? Just for the record you probably have tens of years of work experience in the financial sector moving billions of dollars across the world? So you can actually make worthwhile predictions and analysis based on your personal experience and knowledge of how the big companies do their book keeping and how the budget gap works?

          1. The reason people say it won’t work is because

            When feel == outrage;
            Reread (again)
            Else
            Egg(Onface);

            1. Can’t compile, getting all sorts of logic errors.

            2. Well I spent all afternoon trying to find who the people are that I referenced, it was Toto Wolff, so I guess even though you aimed your questions at me, when directed to the source, the answer is yes!

            3. Toto is one of those people who don’t want budget gap. It is like asking horner about these current engines when you quote toto about the budget gap.

    6. My vision statement for F1 is:

      “The fastest single seater racing championship on the planet where the best drivers have a greater chance of winning/podium despite which car they drive”.

      Every future decision made by liberty should be compared against this vision, if it doesn’t contribute to it, it shouldnt be implemented.

      1. I think you completely miss out on the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’-part in your vision statement. That (the technical part), from my perspective, has always been the core of F1, along with having the best drivers in the world.

        1. I used to think that too, but it doesnt really add anything to the entertainment. Technical inovation within stricter boundaries to decrease the chance of the two tier team system is required. F1 in the past never had the industrial might of todays corporate giants.

          1. @emu55, Using your formula has made NASCAR such a success and it will continue to grow in the future as fast as it is now, which means it’ll probably die about the same time as F1 is likely to, but hey, some people made a shedload of money from it so who cares.
            Supercars ? will you be cheering for the Fiesta’s or the Astra’s ?

      2. As long it is a constructors series, it will be impossible to accomplish this vision.
        The difference is too marginal for the human element (driving/strategy) to influence the result every other weekend.

        1. This is true, the industrial might of Mercedes or Ferrari is impossible to compete against financially or in manpower.

      3. My vision. Make the cars as heavy as possible by adding all existing road car technology to the cars. Focus on making the cars longer and longer and reduce the spectacle of racing by adding strict fuel and tire restrictions. Add as much downforce as possible to encourage drs usage and reduce action on track to make space for more advert breaks. Give the control of the sport to the top 2 teams who are winning and create a special forum where the slow and dirty minion teams can not participate. Use said forum to dictate… I mean decide on all future rule changes that helps the top2 teams. Ignore all the adjectives you’d normally use to describe the racing and instead focus on the thrill of fuel saving, tire saving, engine saving, battery saving, difficulty of passing and the skillset of using the drs button. Whenever someone disagrees with you scream road relevance as loudly as you can while tearing stacks of thousand euro bills.

    7. Becoming a less expensive series is essential.
      It is difficult to find pocket deep as tobacco/alcohol.
      The third deepest are automakers. But the competition between retail brands do not allow the financial burden of a 4th in the constructors championship.
      The Renault will certainly be reevaluated if 19/20 seasons did not show major improvements.
      The Honda experiment generated only embarassement.
      So, when an automaker, as mercedes, get an edge on the specs, it will hold it indefinitely threating to leave the calendar. And this makes it harder to attract new automakers or any other revenue source.

    8. sporting changes for the 2021 season which will include the introduction of a budget gap

      I’m sure they are capable of that. :P

      1. They can’t even comply to the no tobacco ads policy.

        1. I can’t believe no one challenged that Mission Now nonsense. They clearly started w/ the vaguely-Marlboro logo and the idea to sell more deathsticks and worked backwards to fill in the cracks w/ marketing wank.

    9. All they have to do is to convince Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull to spend at the same level as the other teams.

      Best of luck with that one…..

    10. There has always been a gap between the top 2-3 teams of the time & the rest & at times it’s been larger than what we have today.

      The biggest difference between the past & now is that in the past reliability was worse & with drivers able to push harder for longer you had an increased possibility for mistakes with runoff areas there to punish those mistakes & this allowed for those teams who wouldn’t usually stand a chance in terms of performance to grab some surprise results.

      1. + 1 This in a nutshell is the problem for F1 today compared to what happened in the past.

      2. I think the reliability issue is the largest factor for damaging the ‘sport’ element.

        1. Even though it sucks when a driver is doing a great job and dominating a race for example and it can all end in every lap due to high unreliability chance, even at the last lap.

          Most recent example, ricciardo in mexico, just look at ricciardo overall this year, red bull conspiracy aside which I don’t believe cause I think they were happy with him as a driver, his reliability has been dreadful, no need to make it worse.

    11. Well if the Honda engines next year prove to be unreliable or slow, I bet more teams will get podiums!

      1. Don’t know if you’re probably sarcastic, but it’s not enough! Even if a red bull or 2 retire in a race there’s still the first 4 uncontested places.

        Even if they’re slow they’ll be 5th and 6th, the gap is too big, that’s what this very article is about!

    12. It is about time people stopped trying to turn F1 into something it isn’t & instead start accepting it for what it is because pretty much every single thing they have done the past 15 odd years to ‘improve the show’ has not only failed to improve anything but also made F1 a lot worse than it was!

      Ruining circuits/corners for the sake of overtaking, making the cars slower by reducing grip/downforce, gimmickey rules to create fake passing, tyres that are made of bubblegum that make drivers drive silly slowly and not push hard at all.

      The route there going F1 will simply not b1 F1 anymore but will instead be F2+ or something, it’s really very sad indeed where the once great F1 has fallen to just to try and appease those who don’t know or understand what F1 is and who instead just want F1 to be what they want it to be. If you cannot accept what F1 is and always has been then it is simple, do not watch & go find something that fits more what you want.

      1. I agree, make the cars and the aero surfaces smaller and only stop teams doing things that are:
        1) Unsafe
        2) Have a computer doing the job of the driver

    13. The overly technical rules and regulations and the big difference in budgets between the top and bottom teams has long been the biggest issues with F1 for some time.
      However the time it takes and the way in which the FIA, Teams and the owner tackle these issues has been the biggest stumbling block going forward.

    14. If the rules are not changed every year then there should to some extent be a narrowing of the performance gap between the top teams and the rest over a few years. However I still think something more radical, as planned, is required.

      Surely the solution is twofold. Reduce the huge payments to the larger teams. There HAS to be a fairer distribution of F1 income with smaller teams getting more. The second point is to make the series relatively less costly to take part in. This way the series may acquire some new entrants.

      Obviously there is a risk that one or more of the big 3 may choose to leave. However, basically you pay your money and take your choice. If Liberty really want a sport that is more competitive then it may be a risk that they have to take.

    15. And those 2 podiums by drivers other than from the top 3 teams were odd events:
      2017: 2 retirements & 2 extra pit stops for the other top team drivers.
      2018: 3 retirements and a flat-spotted Vettel to open the door for Perez.

      1. If only there was a championship with F1-type cars and at more than 10 drivers fighting for wins and podiums.

        Well, here it is: link
        – 9 different winners this season
        – 10 different drivers doing a fastest lap
        – 8 different drivers on pole position
        – WDC open until the penultimate race.

        1. +1 This is the REAL formula 1 championship.

        2. So Yes, get rid off the top 3 teams and F1 would be great, I like it.

          From the new engine rules F1 is like WEC with the different classes off cars
          LMP1 Hybrid – Mercedes
          LMP1 – Ferrari, Redbull
          LMP2 – the rest of the teams

          Maybe F1 needs BOP to bring it closer, cant be any worst than DRS for the fake overtaking asleast we should get close racing

        3. @coldfly and how is this any different to past years? how many mid field team podiums have been down to sheer speed rather than retirement or other issues for the faster cars ahead?

          i do not get why this whole f1.5 or whatever is suddenly a thing only now when it is something that has been a part of f1 forever?

          it is another example of the media who constantly bang on about something and driving the story and making is reality in the eyes of those who do not know any better. i have been an f1 fan for 35 years now and f1 is no different today in terms of what is now called ‘f1.5’ to what it was the day i 1st watched and to make out that it is only a new thing is to tell untruths indeed.

          1. Well it is different if you think way around. Formula 1 35 year go did not have reserve teams in F1 and reserve young drivers who is driving for team which are getting your engine. For me this is more severe gray way to big teams which are suppliers of engine manipulate over championship, more worse about forcing their drivers. Then we have this funny remarks about Toto/Ocon vs Red Bull (which should be banned on the side of Mercedes as manipulation over F1, and other teams). For me is important question as the thing Brown mention.

    16. Yes, but that’s how it’s more or less always been in F1, though.

    17. It’s always quite sad to read some random opinions “to fix F1”.

      Most of them would destroy F1. Even the experts are having a hard time formulating a fix.

      My thoughts are that Liberty and the FIA are too spineless to enforce anything that is detrimental to Mercedes and Ferrari. And that the only fix will come if at least 2 other very good engines are available for privateers, so F1 is covered if Merc and Ferrari leave F1 (if Liberty and FIA ever grow a pair).

    18. FIA unfit for purpose.

      Ross Brawn is a disgrace, given his stance as MB team principal.

    19. F1 is in a tough spot. The sport where spending money and burning oil is daily business is dealing with (the aftermaths of) a financial crisis in a time where there’s a lot more focus (from the general audience and –with that– sponsors) on environmentally friendly solutions.
      The changes that were put in place for cost cutting (less testing, less engines per season…) and environment (smaller engines, hybrid technology…) have made the arguably cars less exciting (less loud, more bulletproof) to sponsors and for teams that don’t have as many resources much harder to catch up (less testing with more difficult technology to work out).
      A sport that isn’t really sensible is more or less forced to be more sensible and it’s ending up in a kind of catch-22 situation under current regulations and agreements in place.

      That said, innovation has always been in the heart of F1 and I can’t see why, with all the smart people involved in F1, the organisation of the sport can’t be innovated. Why, to float a crazy idea, aren’t all teams forced to publish all technical drawings at the end of the year? It forces the leading engineers to keep innovating, the leading teams shouldn’t be afraid to lose their advantage directly because it takes at least half a season to implement important advantages and ideas in a current concept.

      A budget cap is hard to enforce, as others have argued before, but could special budgets or a first-draft-pick system for whoever finishes last (for new talents or other technologies…) work?

      I think there’s still many solutions and for such an innovative sport I’m surprised the discussion keeps coming back to budget caps or standardised parts over and over again. And mostly those discussions are held separately, while all problems are connected.

      1. @stranceloll, They problem is directly related to the amount of money taken out of the series by BE and his successors. Had the teams not been conned into a situation where BE could keep 50% of revenue and with help from MM as FIA chief, “own” F1 for 100 years.
        With the advantage of hindsight we can see that the original FOCA teams should have formed a company and employed a good CEO/promoter on a suitable salary + success bonus, had they done this the lower order teams would have circa 190% of their current income.

    20. It’s all BS and has nothng to do with regulations etc. There are 2 factory teams (Mclaren is a car manufacturer!) with serieus budgets that are underperforming, and should be both in the gap that is there. They are the cause of this problem, not F1 itself. The gap between first to last in on the grid is not bigger that in has always been in f1. Probably relatively small the moment. Being lapped 4-5 times was normal 25 years ago, finishing 50 second in front as well. Haven’t seen that for years. Same for de 107% in Quali. Not needed for years, while it was needed in the past.

      1. To be fair, you’ve not seen such large win margins since engine penalties, now when you have the lead, you must slow down and pootle along just fast enough to win to stop your engine from wearing excessively.

        1. To be even fairer, those 50 second gaps were often due to the main challenger(s) engine failing. Being 50 seconds ahead didn’t kill the suspense because the leading cars engine could fail as well, just as in MotoGP the leader can crash out before finishing.

          1. Such gaps were also commonplace in wet races, but just compare spain 1996, monaco 97, silverstone 2008 with brazil 2016: schumacher and hamilton won by around 45-53-68 sec those races when safety cars weren’t brought out every little chance they had, which they were doing by brazil 2016, hamilton would’ve had a huge gap, but a bit hard with a safety car every few mins!

    21. Sean-n – “F1 no longer needs to be the cutting edge of technology. It’s too expensive for the average competitor and besides, Aeronautics and Aerospace are the places for this. Not a sport.”.
      I’ve been following F1 since 1958, and I always remember Mike Hawthorn removing the disc brakes from his road Jaguar (XK140, I think) and having them fitted to his F1 Ferrari… so, even back then, F1 was not entirely the cutting edge of technology…
      But it was a sport…!

    22. You can very quickly lower the budgets by drastically reducing the number of guys in the pits (and therefore in planes/hotels etc…). 2.X seconds pitstops are not ‘high tech’ – watch other race series and see how much more entertaining are 7-9 sec. stops…
      And having two extra guys whose only role is to support the car from toppling over when it’s up on it’s narrow jacks, also is not ‘high tech’…
      Remember the old adage: ‘Save the pennies and the pounds (dollars) will look after themselves…’ – it isn’t just a question of saving millions at the top.

    23. It really is crazy how drastic the gulf is. @keithcollantine points out that “The top three teams scored over 77% of the available points this year.” Which made me wonder, how much worse could it be?

      If the top 3 teams locked out positions 1-6 in every race, they would have had 87% of the available points. However, when you count the 20 DNF equivalents among the top 3 teams this season (18 retirements and 2 non-finish but classified), the most that they could have scored is 79.6%, and they scored 77.6%. That means that even with penalties, start issues, pit delays, spins, etc., Merc/Fer/RBR scored 97.5% of the points they could have scored after DNFs are accounted for. That is massive.

      Other domination insanity of note:
      — The single non-top-3 podium this year (Perez, Baku) required 3 DNFs from the top 3 teams.
      — The top 3 teams had 3 DNFs in 2 other races this year (Bahrain, Austria) and still swept the podium with the remaining 3 cars.
      — After DNFs, when the top 3 teams finished, they only finished outside the top 6 on 4 occasions and all of those were still in the points. (7th, 8th, 8th, 9th)
      — Lastly, if you took the 7th place driver’s score (Hulk, 69pts) and tripled it (207), he’d only be in 6th place and still 40 pts off of 5th.

      1. Amazing stats.

        Problem identified ..!

      2. @hobo
        full marks to your effort.
        While the stats themselves arent unsurprising, this gave me a little shock :

        Lastly, if you took the 7th place driver’s score (Hulk, 69pts) and tripled it (207), he’d only be in 6th place and still 40 pts off of 5th.

      3. I’d like to add one: if you take most of the races that didn’t have a safety car later on the race, every single of the non-top cars is lapped, canada and mexico are 2 interesting examples: in canada, raikkonen had hulkenberg just in front 1 lap behind and he was the last of the top runners, in mexico verstappen even lapped bottas, who however had a terrible car and race, bottas himself lapped the following car!!

    24. My idea: once a (week/month/2 months) each team must present their car in parc expose to all other teams immediately following a race. All of the other teams are free to document, copy, reverse engineer anything they find. If you invent something new, you get your advantage for a period of time, but then everyone else gets to catch up. Is that unfair to the innovator? Perhaps, but perhaps they’d spend less money on innovation, and they would still want to win so they would still engineer new things. It’s a balance of performance without being as Lemans about it.

    25. What am I missing? The teams are closer than they have been in the 30 or so years I have been watching F1. We had the top 3 all taking wins which is quite rare. We are due for a surprise win from a team. The last one was Williams 5 years ago or so. When was the last one before that? Monaco 1996? Brawn has been saying this same garbage for 20 years now. Nobody has any interest to fix it especially Brawn. How will he feed his extremely large ego if he actually fixes the supposed problems? I would really just like to see the top 3 teams run 3 or 4 cars like the old days and be done with it.

      1. There’s more of those, just to make 2 examples, fisichella on a slow jordan in 2003 and button on a non-title contending honda in 2006, and now I think about it, also trulli at monaco 2004 with a non-title contending renault and alonso in hungary 2003 with the same car.

        To be honest in the current era, a victory like williams in 2012 is absolutely impossible, look at it statistically, I never see more than 3 of the top 6 cars retire, so save for terrible races, even a podium is impossible for everyone else, a victory would require 5 top cars to retire and one to suffer such a problem that it won’t compete for the top, like a puncture and having to do a whole lap before pitting, won’t happen unless the performance gap is reduced, especially with such reliability.

    26. It’s amazing to think that only on six occasions this year one of the finishing drivers in top three teams was behind someone else.

      Australia, Verstappen 6th (Alonso): Spin in early race
      Australia, Bottas 8th (Alonso, Hülkenberg): Crash in qualifying leading to low grid position.
      China, Vettel 8th (Hülkenberg, Alonso): Punted by Verstappen, the field close to Safety car
      Azerbaijan, Vettel 4th (Perez): Late mistake “helped” by the race distance being just four laps after final safety car
      Monaco, Verstappen 9th (Ocon, Gasly, Hülkenberg): Crashed in practice and missed qualifying, starting last.
      France, Bottas 7th (Magnussen): Punted by Vettel in the first corner, had car damage

      If we had drivers from top three teams starting from 15th to 20th, I would probably still bet on one of those drivers winning the race with an exception of Monaco.

      1. Yes, absolutely, on tracks you can overtake decently, and it’s ALMOST all of them when we’re talking about having a 1,5-2 sec gap per lap, it’s not even a question, they will take ALL the first 6 places!

        In monaco and australia you will likely end up stuck behind someone, unless you cheat, and cut a chicane, set some fastest lap, pay your 5 sec penalty when you have a 6 sec gap in 3 laps!

        1. So yes, on top of the main subject, those 5 sec penalties that don’t change based on the offense are ridiculous, just waiting till someone abuses them!

    27. I don’t know, I seem to hold a quite unpopular or rare opinion here…
      To me it doesn’t matter if the battle is for 8th place, if it’s good I enjoy it as much as a battle for 2nd. This whole constant remembering us that this is a problem has ground only from an economical point of view when the disparity puts teams at risk of survival and partecipation. But if it’s just granting everyone a shot at a victory based on… penalizing stronger teams? Everybody assumes that stronger teams getting more is unfair. Well I would think it is indeed fair. You invested more, you did a better car and got better results. As long as there are battles all over the field it’s very fair to me. We are only missing battle between 6th and 7th place if you think about it. But position 1st to 6th is a wild battle, and 7th to 20th is fierce as well. Big strong teams get more in the end. Good for them, let me say. I wouldn’t want Force India to be instantly fighting for victories just because top teams are impeded on investing what they have in the sport. I don’t know. It has to be balanced I suppose, too much of everything kills, in the end.

      1. Just two problems… first, it has created 2 separate races – rich boys and the rabble. Secondly, it must be rather demoralising for drivers 7-20 knowing they have virtually no chance of a podium, let alone a victory. And that cannot be good for racing.

        1. Hmmm, once again MotoGP shows how to do it, they have 2 classes, Factory and Privateer, RBR would still dominate the privateers and shame Renault and McLaren but that also happens to Factory teams in MotoGP.

          1. 3 classes surely – Factory, Satellite and Privateer.
            Difference between all three is nowhere near as stark as in F1 though. All classes have a good chance of getting a podium at least, which keeps it interesting. At the moment, really bad weather is the only chance most F1 teams get to even get a sniff at a podium place.

          2. @hohum I an not sure that I fully agree with you here.
            While I agree that MotoGP is a great show, I am not sure we want the same show in F1.

            MotoGP rewards the reality of the situation. But that doesn’t mean we actually want that reality.
            Do we really want F1 and F1.5 comps? Not me.

            1. @mickharrold, I’m not actually promoting it, just pointing out that it can be done in a successful series. It could be worse.

        2. I don’t really see the problem. No soccer player in a low ranking club would have a chance of ending the championship on the top positions as well. Let alone winning it. Same story, it seems. High ranking clubs spend a lot for the best players in order to win the championships they compete in, and indeed they do win them regularly. You might say a club can do a Leicester, but we both know that is a clear ecception to the norm. But nobody seems to blink if the same 6 clubs win every Premier League. (sorry for any mistake, I don’t follow football, neither am I from UK)

          1. Not really comparable. Leicester DID win the championship and over something like 38 games, not just a couple of exceptional games.
            We are talking about just a single win in F1 for a team other than Merc, Ferrari or RB, not even a championship. The last one was Kimi, driving a Lotus in the Australian GP 2013. That’s a long, long time ago.

            1. mrfill, my turn, I believe, Renault, Williams, and Maclaren have also won championships, or so the rumor goes. Have no idea if that was before or after Leicester though.

            2. @mrfill, my turn, I believe, Renault, Williams, and Maclaren have also won championships, or so the rumor goes. Have no idea if that was before or after Leicester though.

    28. If budget caps are so difficult and teams don’t want to redistribute their money, there are other, cheap ways of increasing the performance of slow teams.

      Why don’t they, like the do in MotoGP, allow for slower teams to test more. Perhaps either back at home or let them have longer practice sessions during the race weekend (with the obligatory higher engine allowance).

    29. Limit the number of mathematically-defined surfaces on the cars. That will solve the excessive spending and lack of overtaking because it will neuter aerodynamics as a competitive advantage. Quite simple, really. And if Red Bull don’t like it tell them to take a hike.

      1. + 1. A sensible idea,

    30. Well, it’s hopeful to hear Brawn appear to be so definitive about the budget problem, though this hardly a big secret. The needed actions are clear but ALL up to Liberty and whether they have the will to act. I they don’t, I suggest we all enjoy the remaining few years of F1.

    31. It’s not going to change. I like what Ross and Liberty are trying to do but it’s a losing cause.
      In the 28 years I’ve been following it, it’s always been unfair to the midfield teams due to their limited funds.
      It’s the pinnacle of racing technology – not of racing.

    32. Yes, F1 has always had these big gaps between the top few teams and the rest. And others have already mentioned the fact that reliability these days prevents underdogs from ever getting a sniff at the podium, let alone a win.

      But in addition to this, I’d say that there seems to be more top class drivers around than ever before – probably because of the ever-increased quality of the lower formulae. In the 90’s and early 2000’s, I don’t recall feeling too terribly bad for the guys that would always come home in 6th or 7th. It seemed the cream would always rise to the top eventually and we’d get to enjoy the Prost/Senna and Schumacher/Hakkinen rivalries as they came.

      But with Alonso, Ocon, Hulkenberg, Sainz, Magnussen, etc. all not ever even getting to celebrate once all year – it really gets to be a drag. Add Russell and Norris to the list for the next couple of years. It gets to the point where I could really care less about the aerodynamics any longer and just want to see more people spraying champagne. Its really why I’ve always watched IndyCar over the years as an antidote to F1, but now there’s F2, FE, and countless other series as well to get entertained by instead.

      I take note that both in IndyCar and F2, the same teams do for the most part take most of the wins because of their budgets of course, but it only ever gets them so far ahead due to the limits of the rules. I’d take that in F1 in a heartbeat. I’ve watched the pinnacle of technological innovation for 35 years now, and unless the rules are opened up to the point where cars are breaking again left and right like they did in the 80’s, then I think I’ve seen enough of it.

    33. I suspect the only way to move forward is to keep the teams out of the decision-making process. F1 needs benevolent dictatorship. You do this. You don’t like it? Goodbye. There are others willing to take your place on the grid. No one is irreplaceable.

    34. F1 has always had big gaps in the field, if you want close racing, go and watch a spec series. Brawn is just pandering to the media.

      Less healthy is long periods of one make winning all, latterly Mercedes, following RBR dominance.

      Success ballast works well in BTCC.. just saying..

    35. My problem with Ross Brawn’s comments is that F1 experienced the same problems when Ferrari were dominant in the early 2000’s. Back then, only McLaren and Williams were any real threat to the Scuderia, something that Brawn was very much a part of.
      Look how dominant Williams were in the early and mid 1990’s, 1992 especially being a very good example of dominance by both a team and race car at their disposal. We have always had this issue, there is nothing new about it.
      As others have mentioned, thirty years ago we had many cars breakdown during grands prix, even the top teams. This made things more unpredictable, and led to more unexpected podiums. I agree that seeing the same teams winning all the time becomes tedious, but its the same in football and a host of other sports. The cream always rises to the top, and the you know what floats!

    36. That is why I don’t go to F1 races anymore.
      And I only watch some.
      I can even predict 2019 final standings.
      1. Hamilton
      2. Vettel
      3. Leclerc
      4. Bottas
      5 Verstappen
      6. Gasly
      7. Hulkenberg
      8. Sainz
      9. Perez

    37. And this is why I wanted a podium from McLaren…

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