Lewis Hamilton has proposed a ban on Formula 1 teams to be able to start early development work on the following year’s cars to level the playing field.
Hamilton is part of the Mercedes team that has dominated the series and won seven drivers’ titles from 2014-2020.
He admits that such a situation gives teams the option to stop developing their current car and move early on to the next model – helping to perpetuate their level of success and create periods of dominance.
If teams are prevented from switching their R&D resources from the current car to the next until after a specified date, he says, other teams will have a chance to catch the pace pioneers.
He said, “It’s not targeting anyone in particular or anything. Obviously in the 17 years I’ve been here, even before I got here, you see a period of dominance. And it still happens.”
“I’ve been really lucky to have one of those periods that Max (Verstappen) is going through now. But with the way things are going it will continue to happen over and over again. And I don’t think we need that in sport.
“Just in my personal experience, when you’re so far ahead, when you’re 100 points ahead, you don’t really need to do a lot of development on your car, and you can start earlier on your next car.
And with a budget cap, that means spending that year’s money on next year’s car.
“But if everyone has time for example, if everyone knows when we can really start, whatever the date is — maybe October is too late, but it’s August 1st, something like that — then nobody has a head start, and then there’s a race.” Real in that short time period of the future car.
Jenson Button, Brown GP BGP001
Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsports Pictures
“I don’t know, maybe it will help everyone get closer the next year, maybe. I could be wrong. But something has to change. When we were winning the World Championships, we could have started earlier than everyone else.”
Hamilton also noted that at the opposite end of the grid, teams with nothing to lose can change development early.
This was famously the case with Honda in 2008, when Team Brackley sacrificed that year’s unpopular RA108.
This choice led to the development of the car that eventually became the title-winning Brawn 001 in 2009.
“Then there are teams that weren’t competitive,” said Hamilton.
So they didn’t even bother working on that current car. If you look at Brawn, they’ve been completely focused on next year’s car from the get-go, and then they show up next year and they shoot everyone. That shouldn’t be possible, in my opinion.
“But it would be great to see in the next 20 years that we don’t have huge time slots where one team goes too far, because we want to see better racing.”