Andreas Seidl: The time of lucky punch podiums is pretty much over – for now

Michelle Foster
Lando Norris holds his trophy on the podium. Imola April 2022.

Lando Norris holds his trophy on the podium after the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Imola April 2022.

Despite introducing all-new cars this year designed to create better racing, Andreas Seidl says a new era always gives the teams with the bigger budgets of yesteryear an “advantage” over the rest of the field.

This year’s championship heralded the arrival of ground effect aerodynamic cars with simpler wings, the new regulations intended to create cars that give off a clean wake and therefore allow for closer racing.

But while there were more overtakes than last season, there was still a big divide between the top three teams and the chasing pack.

So much so that McLaren’s Lando Norris was the only driver from outside Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes to have featured on the podium with a third place at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. And he did it on a Sunday where Ferrari gave McLaren a helping hand with Carlos Sainz retiring and Charles Leclerc in the barrier.

Last season, the final year under the old technical over-car airflow rules, McLaren were on the podium five times of which one was a win at the Italian Grand Prix. Alpine also recorded a race win and a second podium while AlphaTauri, Aston Martin and Williams brought the number of podium-finishing teams to eight.

“It is not a surprise what we have seen,” McLaren team boss Seidl said as per GPFans. “Especially when you go into a new era of Formula 1 with completely new technical regulations.

“The teams that have the best infrastructure, that had unlimited money in the past in order to create the best possible teams, and that have the best available tools and methodologies in place, there is even more reason that when you have to do something completely from scratch, they create an even bigger advantage for themselves by using everything that they have in place.

“Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise what we have seen this year, because the time of these lucky punches is pretty much over with the regulations that we have.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom as the German believes in time the budget cap along with the aerodynamic testing restrictions and stable regulations will again see the field close up a bit.

“At the same time, I am absolutely convinced with having a budget cap in place, with having stability in the regulations, that over time performance will come closer together between all of the teams in Formula 1 and the sport will become better and better,” he added.

“I am absolutely convinced of that.”

But how long will it take before we get a repeat of 2021?

Although the Formula 1 bosses are praising the new regulations, as is to be expected, 2022 fell short especially when compared to the non-stop thriller that was the 2021 championship.

This year it was Charles Leclerc versus Max Verstappen at the start and then just Red Bull, most notably Verstappen, with a couple of cameos from Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull and a one-off for Carlos Sainz and later in the year George Russell.

Yes the midfield action was brilliant, often the highlight of the Sunday, but at the sharp end it was flat and everyone knew by the summer break the titles were going to Red Bull – it was a case of when and not if.

It was predictable from about race five onwards, and that alas made it rather boring at times compared to last year with shock victories for Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon, even George Russell’s podium in Williams in crazy circumstances added to the drama that was 2021.

And that was before you lifted your eyes to the top of the scorecard and saw Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton trading P1/2 finishes.

2021 was the end result of 2014’s engine rule changes, eight years. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait until 2029 to get a repeat of last year’s magic.

Read more: Daniel Ricciardo reflects on racing for McLaren after being axed