Lewis Hamilton, Pierre Gasly, Miami International Autodrome, 2022

Gap between top teams and midfield “a bit sad” – Gasly

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In the round-up: Pierre Gasly is disappointed the changes to Formula 1 cars for this year doesn’t seem to have put more of an emphasis on drivers’ performances.

In brief

Field spread in 2022 “a bit sad”, says Gasly

Gasly says this year’s Formula 1 field appears to have spread out under the new technical regulations rather than gotten closer.

New rules for this season were introduced to try and improve racing, but have seen Ferrari and Red Bull dominate the season, with Mercedes a distant third place. Gasly says he is disappointed that the top two teams have such an advantage over the rest of the field.

“I expected the field to close up together – which I think happened in the midfield,” Gasly said. “I think if you look from fourth fastest to probably the last position, actually, I think we really all bunched up quite a lot.

“But the top three is a different world. Even last year, I got excited many times because I could out-qualify Ferrari, sometimes Red Bull, sometimes Mercedes – I felt like these top three, they were faster, but they were not in such a different league that you could tease them sometimes. This year, there’s no way.

“There’s clearly like a big step between – only Bottas can challenge them at times. But they are on their own, and we’re literally fighting for seventh. Which is a bit sad, because clearly the target was to close.

“So I hope whatever solution we can find for the coming years because that’s the target and that’s what we’re all pushing [for] as drivers. We want drivers to have a bigger impact and input on the end result.”

Grosjean caught out by red tyre degradation in Detroit

Romain Grosjean admitted that he and his Andretti team did not anticipate how fast the red tyres would degrade during Sunday’s Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle.

Grosjean tried a two stop strategy having started from 12 on the grid, but suffered heavy tyre wear on the softer red tyres and had to pit a third time near the end of the race, finishing 17th.

“We tried a different strategy but the red tyres fell off much faster than we had anticipated and that put us on the back foot,” Grosjean explained.

“We tried later to push hard and make up some ground but we lost too much initially. We will analyse it all and come back stronger in Road America.”

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Comment of the day

Looking back at Lewis Hamilton’s start to the 2022 season, @Neilosjames sees two Mercedes drivers in very different phases of their careers.

It’s an interesting one between one driver climbing towards his peak and another declining away from his (personal view, other brands are available).

I’d say Russell’s had a touch more consistency and a lot more good fortune, while Hamilton has put in the only genuine stand-out performance from either of them. Not a huge amount between them, and the points don’t paint an accurate picture. Whoever ends up on top, I just hope the car comes good sooner or later and they can fight for wins rather than the minor points.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Owen, Timtoo, Dot_Com and Dawnj86!

On this day in motorsport

  • 30 years ago today Bobby Rahal won the CART IndyCar round at Detroit ahead of Raul Boesel and Stefan Johansson

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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27 comments on “Gap between top teams and midfield “a bit sad” – Gasly”

  1. I too was a little surprised about the size of the gap at the start of the season given the new designs. I did expect the top 3 to extend the gaps as the year progressed but thought they’d be closer initially.

    Hopefully the gap will close a bit over the next couple of seasons as the lower teams get more up to speed with what works and what doesn’t and then find the $ to develop

    1. @dbradock I would have been more surprised if there was a smaller gap as we had been told not to expect miracles immediately from this drastic car change. So I’m surprised Gasly is saying this, as the teams will inevitably converge, barring someone finding some extreme magic of course, but for now are still experimenting and learning about their new cars.

      1. Exactly. What we see can be labelled ‘typical’ following a regulation change.

      2. @robbie ordinarily I would have agreed and certainly in the past, huge gaps were to be expected.
        In the past however, those teams at the front spent obscene amounts in developing the new spec cars that had extraordinary complex aero parts hanging all over them.
        This season, they’ve still spent a lot, but there were limits. Similarly, the rules dictate a much “simpler” design, it’s still complex, but there was a much more narrow field for them to “develop” in, so I did expect there not to be quite such a big gap.

        Don’t get me wrong, I expected a gap, not one quite as big, and probably 1 or two other teams to be in that top mix given they had the luxury of being able to spend near the budget cap. That gap will probably get worse too this season and probably next as the front runners fine tune their cars.

        Just as well the midfield is providing closer racing :)

        1. @dbradock Fair comment. Just not sure about the gap getting worse this season and next, as I think that while RBR and Ferrari are obviously a step ahead I also think Mercedes and at least some of the others should learn a lot this year, and there is going to be stability in the regs carried over for next year. And for sure I see the closeness of the mid-field remaining, but perhaps with less of a gulf in general to the top 3 next year. I think no small amount of the equation is going to centre around tires too, for they could only experience them on dummy cars ahead of this season and they will have gathered tons of data on them, and even if the tires are changed to a degree for next year, testing will occur on actual new gen cars this time. So as a general comment I think all teams should be able to get more performance from their cars from better marriage to the tires next year.

  2. Not sure what Gasly was thinking. Just about every major rule change in F1 has the same effect.
    Might have been a bit closer if the budget cap had been done properly and introduced at least 2 years before the new technical regs, but F1 never does things properly.
    If the big teams get their wish to increase the budget cap (with the convenient inflation excuse) then that will just allow them to increase their development budgets again.

    1. Maybe they should allow teams to overrun the budget cap.
      But for every dollar they overspend, they need to fund an extra dollar which will then be split between the other nine teams.

      Thus if RBR, Ferrari, and Mercedes* each spend an extra $10M then there is a free $3M for each of the other teams. Spend/Save it as they wish.

      *Of course if the ‘big-3’ spend the money then Aston Martin and McLaren will follow suit, and the rest will get even more ‘for free’.

      1. It’s a suggestion with some merit – but I’d suggest that if, say, Red Bull spend an extra $1M, then they should be matching it and giving each and every one of their competitors an extra $1M, costing them a total of $10M (theirs, plus the other 9 teams). That’s a pretty fair and decent incentive to stick within the agreed rules, I’d say, otherwise they’d just keep spending as much as they can afford knowing it would still help them 9 times as much as it helps everyone else.

        Of course, the danger in allowing this to happen is that then everything just spirals up and everyone is breaking the rules put in place to sustain them, and indeed F1 as a whole – which is completely counter-productive for everyone involved. A race to bankruptcy…
        Its the fastest way for F1 to go straight back to needing a budget cap to increase sustainability and potential for competition.

        1. It’s a suggestion with some merit – but I’d suggest that if, say, Red Bull spend an extra $1M, then they should be matching it and giving each and every one

          Maybe somewhere between 1x and 9x, I’d say.

          I started with the 9x (pay each other team), but discarded that as then the 2nd biggest team would just ‘play chicken’ (or find ways to ‘delay’ the overspend) to make sure the other team pays for them.
          At 1x or 2x the 2nd team still needs to commit and spend their own money (and fund the rest).

          1. I’m imagining any overspend ‘penalty’ would have to apply to the following season – as you can’t penalise someone for overspending if the year hasn’t finished yet and the finances haven’t been finalised.
            So if a team went over this year, their penalty payment would go to the other teams 2023 budgets.
            After a couple of years, you could imagine how complex and messy this would become – just as the teams would want it to be…

            If the second (and third, fourth, etc) team is doing it too, then they are basically just paying each other to cheat, and all benefiting from it. As in, an alliance or a collaboration – or some might say, a traitorous cooperation.
            If everyone is cheating together as a group, does that then make it acceptable? Possibly so, in F1 circles….
            It has proven to be the case in the past with other rules.

            The only way to stop it is to attach an enormous (and therefore, unattractive and undesirable) penalty to it – and the penalty F1 teams fear most is giving their competitors an advantage at their expense. That, and disqualification, of course.
            Which is a pretty severe penalty, I think you’d agree – and is why it is avoided at all costs. Very effective.

    2. Exactly. In 2017, the gap widened significantly..

    3. S I don’t think they could have introduced the budget caps any better or sooner as my understanding was that there was the previous Concorde Agreement from the BE era to get past, and then they got hit with the realities of the pandemic. I don’t think Liberty could have pulled this off any better frankly and the very fact that after decades of caps being talked about under BE and never happening, Liberty has done it about as fast as they possibly (and fairly to the teams) could have, starting the ball rolling with this new chapter as soon as they took over the reins. I think they have done a remarkable job all things considered. Perfect? Of course not. Needed? Absolutely. All with the teams help and signing to be on board with F1’s new direction.

  3. Well it is the first season with the new regs. F1 didn’t know fully how it would pan out. We could have had another mercedes situation or even worse. Luckily we didn’t and at least there is two teams fighting for the wins. Of course it could always be better.

  4. I truly hope the big teams do not get their way and F1 maintains the current budget cap. Give current regs some time to be properly understood by all teams and how to manage their budgets.

    I hope the field gets bunched up some more when the development tokens get re-allocated at the mid point of the season. If nothing else, it should atl east enable the bottom half of the grid to close up to the top half.

  5. the Andretti brand on its own is not enough and that the family needs to partner with a car manufacturer not currently in F1 to make it sufficient.

    Ring ring – “Hello, Audi Motorsport HQ, this is Michael Andretti.”

    1. “Ah, Guten Tag Mr Andretti.
      Thanks for the call, but we don’t actually plan on going anywhere near F1. Just leaching some media exposure at the moment, thanks.
      But good luck to you.”

      1. I would think Audi to tell him “well, yes, Mr. Andretti. We are looking forward to scooping up an already functioning team where more investment can lead to a relatively short path to the podium. Where is your facility, experienced team of F1 crew, designers etc? S. @geemac.

        That Audi was looking at buying McLaren to get in shows where their ambitions lie (sure, they thought it might be cheaper, especially after the trouble the team was in during the last few years), they are more likely to buy Sauber since it has a functioning team, windtunnel, CFD already in place. Had Andretti bought Alfa, they might have already been in the boat with Audi. Now he will first have to establish a team at all, and convince somebody to back that.

  6. Gasly says this year’s Formula 1 field appears to have spread out under the new technical regulations rather than gotten closer.

    As was always the case.

    1. Strange enought Alfa Romea team is very often in Q3 and finish in the points so i don’t agree with his statement i find the midfield very big with Williams as the lonely backmarker I think that is Gasly problem a lot of same performance cars around him and with his bad luck he is often out of the points.

  7. I don’t quite share Gasly’s view, but more so what others have typed above.

    On the other hand, I share COTD’s view entirely.

    Of course, Ricciardo hasn’t forgotten how to drive F1 cars fast, but he simply endures a continued subpar performance trend that carried on from last season, which he needs to get rid of sooner rather than later.

  8. While I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that a major rule change would see one or two teams strike lucky and get a significant advantage over the rest of the field, I’m with Gasly as I had hoped for the field to be closer together with at least 3 or 4 times with a feasible chance of winning each race. While there’s been some good races this year it has been disappointing to see only Vestappen and Leclerc (with an extreme outside chance of Perez) having a real chance of winning this year.

  9. isthatglock21
    7th June 2022, 10:29

    Shhh…easy now you’ll upset the F1 gravy train which likes to pretend this years rules are somehow revolutionary & the best we’ve ever had. F1 over the past few years is just optics, never open to criticism or fair feedback, if you just pretend it’s all amazing & churn it out via socials & key infleuncers with the same old buzzwords then it’s job done.

  10. I’m not that surprised that there is still a decent gap between the top 2-3 teams & the rest of the mid field because that is just the way F1 has always been.

    1. @stefmeister For sure and I don’t think Brawn ever suggested there wouldn’t still be the top teams, but that those top teams would in time under this new chapter of cars and caps and money distribution be closer to each other and the rest of the grid closer to them as well. A big part of the idea here is to have the lesser teams once again have some glimmer of hope of building themselves up and actually eventually fighting for podiums which is a hope they had entirely lost in the first iteration of hybrid era. Going to take a few years yet I’m sure but I foresee a much healthier F1 going forward wrt a better balance between the top teams who have greatly had their wings clipped, and the bottom teams who have been bolstered.

  11. To be fair, as disappointing as it is, it was always sort of going to happen to some extent.

    It was new regulations. A massively different set to previous. There was always likely to be 1 or 2 teams who got it more right than anyone else, and probably a few who went down the wrong path and need to recover.

    The gains to be found in upgrades at this stage is huge, so probably fairer to see what the gaps are like nearer the end of the season, i’d expect there to be some kind of convergence of performance over time, and more as seasons go on if regs stay stable.

  12. All of a sudden ” oooh if we have budget cap and level playing field we will dominate” argument is suddenly gone

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