Formula 1

Hamilton: F1 should stop teams working on next year’s car early

by Josh Suttill
3 min read

Lewis Hamilton has called for a restriction on when Formula 1 teams can start developing their next car amid Red Bull’s dominant start to the season.

Red Bull has won all eight races of the 2023 F1 season so far, emulating the kind of dominance that Hamilton’s Mercedes enjoyed during some of its eight consecutive constructors’ title-winning years.

Logically Red Bull’s stronghold on the season will allow it to switch more of its focus to next year’s car than if it was in the middle of a title fight – something Aston Martin has previously suggested will be the best hope of a non-Red Bull win later this year.

Hamilton – part of a Mercedes team that has only won one grand prix since the introduction of the new aerodynamic regulations at the start of 2022 – has now pitched introducing a restriction on when teams can start developing their next car.

He initially suggested an August date as an example to the Sky Sports F1 crew at the Red Bull Ring.

That suggestion, along with the inference that dominant teams enjoyed a next-year development head start, was then put to Verstappen.

“Life is unfair as well so… it’s not only in Formula 1,” Verstappen simply replied.

“A lot of things are unfair in life so we just have to deal with it.”

He also told Sky: “We weren’t talking about that when he was winning his championships, right? So I don’t think we should now.

“It’s normal of course [that] people behind us say these kinds of things, but they should also not forget when they were winning how it was looking.”

Hamilton then was told of Verstappen’s response later that day.

“Yeah but it wasn’t- it’s not like aimed at any one particular person or anything,” he insisted. “It’s just that obviously in my 17 years of being here… before even I got here, you would see periods of dominance.

“It continues to happen. I think as a sport, we do at some stage- I was really fortunate to have one of those periods that Max is having now but with the way it’s going, it will continue to happen over and over again.

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes F1

“And I don’t think we need that in the sport. Just from my personal experience, when you’re so far ahead, you’re 100 points ahead, you don’t really need to do a lot more development on your car, so you can start earlier on your next car.

“With the budget cap that means spending that year’s car money on next year’s car, but if everyone had a cut-off, a time, everyone knew that it could then start – whatever date it is, October, probably too late, but August 1 [for example], something like that, that nobody has a head start and it’s a real race in that short space of time for the future car.

“I don’t know, maybe that would help everyone be more level and closer the following year.”

Hamilton acknowledged that his Mercedes team had previously been a beneficiary of the development advantage of a dominant car and even cited Brawn GP’s decision – when it was still Honda – to start development of its 2009 car early in 2008 as evidence of the kind of advantage you can get.

Brawn GP F1

 

“I might be wrong but something’s got to change because if you continue having- when we were winning world championships we could start earlier than everybody else.

“Then there are teams that weren’t competitive so then they didn’t bother working on that current car… you look at Brawn, they just focused fully on next year’s car from the beginning and then they turned up next year and blitzed everybody.

“And that shouldn’t be possible, in my opinion. It’s not for me to judge but it would be cool to see in the next 20 years that if we don’t have huge bands of time where one team can be too far ahead.

“We want to see better racing.”

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