(L to R): Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Miami International Autodrome, 2023

F1 ‘can’t intervene’ to make championship more competitive – Domenicali

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In the round-up: Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali says Red Bull deserve their success and the series won’t make changes to help their rivals become more competitive.

In brief

Budget cap will close up the competition – Domenicali

Red Bull have won all five races so far this year, including four one-twos, and only lost one of the last 15 rounds. Domenicali insists it isn’t a foregone conclusion they will win the championship again, but ruled out making any changes aimed it making the season more competitive.

“This year, we need to say the truth: Red Bull did a better job than the others, it’s a fact,” he said at an event run by the Financial Times. “But I would be imprudent to say the championship is finished.

“We cannot intervene in the performance of the teams. I am sure what we did in terms of financial regulations will help to minimise the gap on the technical side.”

Tsunoda hopeful for AlphaTauri’s “big update”

Most if not all the F1 teams are expected to bring updates for this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Yuki Tsunoda, who has scored both of AlphaTauri’s points so far this year, wants to see big gains from theirs.

“We’re going to have hopefully a big update [at] Imola,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans. “So hopefully that will work well.”

Now in his third year as an F1 driver, Tsunoda says he has raised his performance this year and is getting more from his car than he used to. “The driver needs to extract performance as much as possible from the car,” he said. “So it’s good that I am able to definitely extract the performance every race, more than last year, which is good. I have to keep [going] like this.”

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Comment of the day

Roth Man is this week’s Caption Competition winner:

So Christian, do you think Checo can bring home the title?
Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)

Thanks to everyone who sent in suggestions this week, especially DavidS, Bullfrog and NinjaBadger whose quips also made the shortlist.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Jonny!

On this day in motorsport

  • 35 years ago today Alain Prost won the Monaco Grand Prix after Ayrton Senna crashed into a barrier at Portier while leading

Author information

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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30 comments on “F1 ‘can’t intervene’ to make championship more competitive – Domenicali”

  1. Stefano is right for once, Neither F1 nor the FIA shouldn’t interfere in terms of reigning in or handicapping Red Bull or any other team that finds themselves in that position in future seasons.

    It should be left upto the other teams to catch up rather than for the fastest to be slowed down & i’ve never liked it when things appear to be changed simply to try & reduce the performance of whatever team has done the best job.

    I also still have my doubts that the budget cap & overly restrictive regulations are actually going to result in the others catching up ‘naturally’. My reasoning been because I think it’s pretty clear that Red Bull’s advantage like the one Mercedes had starting in 2014 isn’t simply that they have a good package now, It’s because they started out with an exceptional baseline & they also have very good correlation with data which is allowing them to bring upgrades they know will work as expected which should ensure they can maximise the development they can do.

    Other teams started out further behind & seem to have more correlation issues (As well as lesser facilities in the case of the smallest teams) so the big upgrades they need to bring aren’t always hitting the performance targets expected which will likely mean it will take longer for them to catch up with the budget cap & other development restrictions also making it take longer due to them having to bring smaller upgrades less frequently.

    It’s almost like the engine token system that was around in 2014/15 which effectively locked in Mercedes engine advantage for the first few years as the other manufacturer’s didn’t have the ability to make the big upgrades they needed to bring to get the big steps they needed to make to catch up. And Mercedes had such a good power unit from the start they were able to get away with bringing smaller improvements that helped them maintain there advantage.

    1. @roger-ayles spot on.

      The other teams need to lift their game, not the leader be handicapped.

      It’s actually quite different to 2014/5 as well. Back then, one PU manufacturer simply refused or couldn’t be bothered improving their PU which was something the team(s) had no control over so even their best design work was being limited by something outside their control. And PU’s were massively critical to performance then.

      This time around, given that the PU’s are all reasonably close, it’s primarily about chassis design and failures are wholly down to the teams just not bringing a good enough design to the table.

      I said in the previous era that teams should be ashamed for not competing with Mercedes and I’ll say it again now…. Teams should be ashamed for not bringing cars that can compete with RBR.

      1. F1 commission had no problem interfering in ’21 when they mandated an engine freeze to allow an understated Honda PU a some space to remove it’s sandbags.

    2. BW (@deliberator)
      15th May 2023, 1:43

      I think it is also fair enough that regulations are changed every few season to “reset” the playing field, which should in theory keep the competition interesting. Having said that, when one team gets it right at the start of the regulations, they deserve to reap the rewards for their efforts and dominate the sport until someone catches up (if indeed they do).
      And domination is part of the sport and always has been – in my time watching I have seen RBR (twice), Merc, Ferrari, Mclaren (twice – sort of) and Williams all have their periods of domination.
      In fact, the close season battles everyone likes to see tend to be the exception to the rule, rather than the rule.

      1. In fact, the close season battles everyone likes to see tend to be the exception to the rule, rather than the rule.

        If one takes a ‘close season’ to be one that was determined in the last two races of the season between drivers of two different teams, it’s not actually that rare in the last, say, 30 years.

        It happened in:
        2021 (Mercedes – Red Bull)
        – note the huge gap –
        2012 (Red Bull – Ferrari)
        2010 (Ferrari – Red Bull – McLaren)
        2009 (Brawn – Red Bull)
        2008 (McLaren – Ferrari)
        2007 (McLaren – Ferrari)
        2006 (Renault – Ferrari)
        2003 (Ferrari – McLaren)
        2000 (Ferrari – McLaren)
        1999 (Ferrari – McLaren)
        1998 (Ferrari – McLaren)
        1997 (Ferrari – Williams)
        1994 (Benetton – Williams)

        If one includes such title battles between teammates, three more seasons can be added:
        2016 (Mercedes)
        2014 (Mercedes)
        1996 (Williams)

        The 2014 regulations were one of the worst choices F1 has made.

        1. The Dolphins
          15th May 2023, 17:28

          Any extreme regulation change is unsettling to the sport and should be avoided. In the case of 2014, with the benefit of hindsight, it was too much introducing turbochargers and the MGU-H and MGU-K. Had those components been phased we would have seen closer championship battles during that 2013-2020 gap.

    3. This might make sense if the FIA hadn’t gone out of their way to make Mercedes less competitive in their reigning years.
      Qualimode bans, DAS, Areo development time, spending caps which other teams ignored, etc

  2. 2 years too late.

    1. exactly

  3. The fact Domenicali is saying the FIA won’t intervene has convinced me the FIA will.

    1. They are already doing it again right now.. Ask Pirelli why they again need to make changes to the tires in-season. Domenicali proved to be the exact right man for the job. From the moment he stepped in they totally owned him. Liberty should be pleased.

      1. Domenicali proved to be the exact right man for the job. From the moment he stepped in they totally owned him. Liberty should be pleased.

        I don’t know why you’re surprised to be honest. Domenicali has been the same yes man manager with no personality in his entire career.

        1. I didnt know that. When he was introduced in his new role this site placed nothing but good articles on his political skills, his bringing people together etc etc. Subsequently I have seen nothing else but a ‘boss pleaser’ without an opinion of his own where this should go. I feel we are absolutely very very unlucky this character got this position. Ferrari must be especially ashamed. He once worked for them and now is throwing away all the legacy of this once ‘sport’. It is very close to becoming entertainment only. He could have held of this disrespectful change of course but probably rather became rich than protecting the sport.

  4. Funny that this headline wasn’t true at all in 2021… But there’s no issue in 2023 (or was there in 2022).

    Unless we later find that RB is completely cheating in some way, this isn’t at all on the FIA. [Baseball analogy] It’s akin to telling Ohtani that it’s illegal for pitchers to play in the field in their off-days, just because he’s super-human.

    1. Even if RB are cheating, the other teams would have to work out how and then pose the question before RB was banned. The FIA must know, the same way they knew about the Flexifloor, and about Ferrari oil burning for all those years and did nothing.

  5. While the FIA shouldn’t be ‘interfering’ or controlling the competition directly – F1 (as a commercial enterprise) absolutely should be pushing for that. Selling the product is their role.
    Nothing turns people off faster than a non-competition or a foregone conclusion, which is exactly what F1 is right now.
    Again. Or still

    This isn’t football or cycling or athletics or any other ‘sport’ where the primary (or sole) influence is human performance on the day. This is a competition involving machines that can be easily controlled for competitive and sporting benefit.
    While one competitor can be allowed to maintain a technical advantage, it isn’t a sport.
    Competition – yes. But sport – no.

    Using the argument that this is what F1 is about or what it should be or has always been totally misses the point – that it isn’t what the vast majority of people actually want to watch.
    Race ratings speak louder than tired old arguments from tired old anoraks on a biased fansite.

    Of course, if it really isn’t about the drivers and the actual act of human competition otherwise known as “sport”, then I’d propose the FIA and F1 finally drop the charade that is the WDC. It is entirely meaningless in F1, as it is completely at the mercy of the WCC and who is driving the best car.

    And yes – that’s the way it has always been…

    1. Exacty, it’s important to keep in mind on whose behalf Domenicali is speaking. It’s not the FIA, who make the rules. F1 as an entertainment product, which is what the commercial rights holder Domenicali works for is selling, should be doing everything it can to push for changes because their product isn’t delivering the excitement and tension that broadcasters were sold.

      Part of that is on the teams. Some of them aren’t seriously trying, others are failing. That’s unfortunate. But part of that is also on the whole F1 world as a collective; it’s trying to remain an open formula, but it can only pick one or two at most areas in which they can really let the teams make investments otherwise the speeds and costs go out of control (arguably the costs still are). The problem with this is obvious; there is no way to mix and match areas of performance. Either the one trick privileged by the regulations is right, or as a team you’re done.

  6. The budget cap should close up the field over time, but still, I doubt F1 would ever become a spec series.

    Up to eight, so more than only the US events.

    1. Theoretically the budget cap should close the field up, but practically it may not. It might actually protect Red Bull now.

      Red Bull have managed to produce a car that’s so much better than everyone else, fair play to them. But now that they are ahead, their advantage might get baked in. The budget cap prevents all of the other ‘big’ teams like Mercedes, Ferrari etc from outspending and out developing Red Bull.

      Even having fewer hours in the wind tunnel isnt enough to counter balance Red Bull’s dominance and enabling other teams to catch up. Max himself said that their aero development is effectively dedicated to elogating the preserving the advantage they currently have for as long as possible.

  7. some racing fan
    15th May 2023, 6:55

    That image caption competiton winner is beyond savage

    1. It was probably one of the few usable entrants

  8. Another 7 pre race introduction.
    F1 is turning into a bad American highschool movie.

    1. Simple solution – watch what you want to and don’t watch the rest.

      1. The problem is the slipperly slope down the abyss.

  9. Only tangentially related to the Domenicali story but I’ve increasingly been wondering why , in the presence of a budget cap, there are still limits on replacing particular parts, in particular engine parts. There is a sporting penalty for using too many ICEs, MGU-Ks etc, but the original motivation for these penalties was to discourage teams from profligate spending on engines; some of these parts are now also frozen other than for safety or reliability fixes. But since there’s a budget cap, this seems unnecessary. Would it not be better to allow the teams to spend their budget as they see fit? Might this not help competition, or at least provide teams with more diverse paths to success and failure ?

  10. Maybe, just maybe the FIA and learned it’s lessons.
    2021 was a farce, stewarding decisions throughout the season were made to influence the closeness of the championship – most obviously in Brazil.

    Enough has been written about the finale, so I won’t stir that up again.

    Yes, maybe they’ve learned their lesson – but it wouldn’t surprise me if the new tyres suit Aston or Mercedes more than Red Bull.

    1. they also changed the tyres mid 21, problem of merc eating the rear tyres where gone after that.

      1. This was the single reason ’21 became a close fight. Without this Lewis wouldn’t have been able to compete at all for the title (that is also why I deem AB’21 irrelevant to the outcome of the WDC, it was Max’ anyway)

  11. Replace “cannot” with “shouldn’t”. Every week we have pundits saying “should F1 change this or that to make racing more competitive?”, but the fact of hte matter is that stability brings the field together. If they keep tweaking the rules, they’ll create the same imbalance, but with different protagonists (or not).

    Stabilizing the rulebook only makes it harder to find gains at the very top of the field, but down below the percentages are larger. The field eventually converges naturally.

    1. but the fact of hte matter is that stability brings the field together

      That is factually incorrect. It never has.
      Don’t confuse the continuation and end of one regulatory period with the beginning of the next. Teams will naturally focus on the incoming regs, leaving their old cars with far less developmental investment.
      It’s not the prolonged period of regulatory stability, it is the lack of development that can (sometimes) create a tighter competition. It does not and can not last, as last year and this year is showing yet again. Just as the Mercedes era showed also. Other teams are just as likely to fall further behind as they are to catch up.
      You prevent teams from being the first to find something new, you necessarily also prevent them from catching up. The regs are too tight now to allow them to find something substantial without another rule change, except through imitation (which is not at all the same as innovation).

      Can you name me a time when teams genuinely converged in performance without an imminent rule change?
      You’d have to go back far enough to when the regs were open enough to effectively be a new set every season (such were the options teams had available and gains they could make) – which just further defeats your take on convergence in F1.

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