FIA expect ‘more cars in the mix’ as 2022 evolves

Jon Wilde
Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris lead the Italian GP. Monza September 2021.

Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris lead for McLaren in the Italian Grand Prix, ahead of Charles Leclerc's Ferrari. Monza September 2021.

Nikolas Tombazis believes Formula 1’s new regulations have the potential to put “more cars in the mix” for race wins and possibly even championships.

The FIA’s head of single-seater technical matters recently said he hopes that by the end of 2022 the gap between the front of the field to the back over a single lap, which was three seconds last season, will have been slashed in half.

That, of course, gives hope to the backmarkers who in 2021 were Haas, Williams and Alfa Romeo. But can anyone from the midfield push closer to Mercedes and Red Bull?

The regulation changes for 2022 are designed to help cars by reducing the ‘dirty air’ aerodynamic effect and produce more exciting racing – and while Tombazis does not see grands prix results becoming wide open straight away, he is not ruling out that prospect once teams have mastered what they can do.

Pierre Gasly between a Red Bull and Mercedes at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest August 2021
Pierre Gasly sandwiched in between a Red Bull and Mercedes at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest August 2021

“It is difficult to expect it to be more exciting than [2021] because that is a very high point of reference,” said Tombazis, quoted by Autosport.

“But I think once there’s a bit of convergence, I think there will be more cars in the mix and I think that would be positive.

“When I was looking at some old championships, I read recently we once had 11 winners in a year and you could win a championship with a few wins.

“I’m not saying we will get to that point, but of course I think to have more variability would be good.

“Also to have people who can genuinely follow closer for longer periods and not overheat the tyres, and still be able to fight for prolonged periods, I think that would be quite exciting.”

The year to which Tombazis was referring, incidentally, was 1982 when the 16 races were won by 11 different drivers. Keke Rosberg was the World Champion with a total of 44 points having taken only one race victory.

 

The midfield was particularly competitive throughout 2021 and Alfa Romeo team principal Fred Vasseur believes it will be even more so during the forthcoming campaign.

“For sure, Mercedes, Red Bull and even Ferrari, they will still have a big advantage in terms of technology, resources and so on, no question mark for me,” said Vasseur.

“But then if you have a look one step behind, between, I would say P4, P5 to P9, that, from one race to another, you could be in Q3 or P18 in qualy.

“It means if you took the right direction, made the good choice and you improve a little bit here and there, you can do a good step forward.”

 

FIA hope smaller gap covers whole field in 2022

The FIA are hoping the gap from first to last on the grid will only be 1.5 seconds per lap in 2022.