In the wake of the Austrian Grand Prix, Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, acknowledged that the championship was undergoing another cycle of single-team dominance, as seen in Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s impressive streak with ground-effects technology.
Hamilton, a Mercedes driver, acknowledged that he had previously benefited from such periods of dominance, but believed that these ‘superteams’ cycles will continue to repeat.
To level the playing field, he suggested that teams should be prohibited from starting work on their cars for the next season until a specified date.
Hamilton proposed, “When you’re leading by 100 points, there’s little need for further development on your car. You can begin work on your next car earlier. With a budget cap, this means utilizing the current year’s budget on the car for the next year.
“But if all teams had a known starting time, there would be no head start. This would make it a true race in that limited time to develop the future car.
“Perhaps this would make the competition closer the following year, or maybe I’m wrong. But a change is needed. During our world championship wins, we could start ahead of everyone else.”
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG
Photo by: Steve Etherington / F1 Flow Images
However, Horner rejected Hamilton’s proposal prior to Verstappen clinching a tenth consecutive Grand Prix win for Red Bull at their home circuit.
He argues that such a policy would be difficult to implement and points out that F1 history demonstrates that competitive parity is more likely when the rules are left untouched.
Horner argued, “[Hamilton] is evidently speaking from personal experience.
“Enforcing such a rule would be tremendously challenging. How can one dictate, ‘Starting from 1st August, go ahead?’ How can we stop people from considering or working on the cars for the next year?
“In Formula 1, we already have a handicap system through the reduction of wind tunnel time. Franz [Tost, AlphaTauri team principal] has nearly double the time we have, which is a substantial handicap.
“Aston Martin [third in the constructors’ championship] will begin to feel the impact of this as it’s reset at the middle of the year. For us, we have to be very selective about what we decide to test in the wind tunnel.
“So, this will make a difference, and this system didn’t exist years ago. We’re likely to see the effects, and I believe that the key thing, as proven by the history of Formula 1, is consistency.
“Stability and not tampering with the regulations will always lead to convergence.
“Signs of this convergence are already visible. By the end of 2025, most teams will likely have reached parity, and then we’ll shake it all up and start again in 2026.”
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about F1 Car Development
What is Lewis Hamilton’s proposal to level the playing field in Formula 1?
Hamilton suggests that teams should be prevented from starting work on their cars for the next season until a specified date. According to him, this would prevent teams from getting a head start and make the competition closer in the following year.
Who is Christian Horner and what is his response to Hamilton’s idea?
Christian Horner is the team principal of Red Bull Racing in Formula 1. He disagrees with Hamilton’s proposal, arguing that such a policy would be difficult to implement and enforce. He believes that competitive parity is more likely to be achieved when the rules are left untouched.
What is the handicap system Horner refers to in Formula 1?
The handicap system in Formula 1 that Horner refers to involves the reduction of wind tunnel time. Teams lower in the standings get more wind tunnel time compared to those higher up. According to Horner, this is a substantial handicap that affects the development of their cars.
What is Horner’s view on the convergence of team performances in Formula 1?
Horner believes that convergence, or achieving competitive parity, in Formula 1 is already underway and will likely be completed by the end of 2025. He suggests that maintaining stability and not interfering with the regulations is the best way to achieve this convergence. However, he also expects the situation to be shaken up again in 2026.