Lewis Hamilton blasted for ‘ludicrous’ car development ban suggestion to reel in Red Bull

Thomas Maher
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2023.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2023.

Lewis Hamilton’s suggestion to ban teams from beginning development on the following years’ car hasn’t been met with much approval…

During the Austrian Grand Prix weekend, Lewis Hamilton made a suggestion that rules could be introduced to prevent teams from starting development on their cars for the following year until a certain point of the season.

The logic behind it is that dominant teams, such as Red Bull in 2023, can’t switch focus early on to 2024 while relying on their current car’s advantage to get them across the line in the title battles – the cycle then repeating in ’24 due to their earlier switchover date.

Peter Windsor: Lewis Hamilton’s suggestion has to be a joke

Ahead of the race at the Red Bull Ring, Hamilton had said: “I think the FIA should probably put a time when everyone is allowed to start developing for the next year’s car.

“So [say], August 1, that’s when everybody can start, so that no one can get an advantage from the next year. Because that sucks.”

But the idea hasn’t impressed F1 journalist and former Williams and Ferrari UK manager Peter Windsor, who took to his own YouTube channel to put the suggestion on blast.

“I think he’s got to be joking, it’s got to be a joke. It’s got to be a wind-up. It’s got to be Lewis winding up Red Bull. He can’t be serious,” Windsor said.

“If he’s serious, that is the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard in my life. I mean, just because one team has got it together to the point where they can win a championship by halfway through the season and then focus on next year’s car in this era of the budget cap, which everybody seemed to want…

“If the budget cap wasn’t such an issue, Red Bull may not want to start work on next year’s car so quickly.

“So I’d like to think Lewis was joking and winding people up – if he’s not joking, it is an unbelievably ridiculous suggestion, in my view. I’ve never heard of anything so stupid in my life. No, stupid is the wrong word, it’s just got to be a wind-up.

“I mean, Lewis would only say that in jest, I’m sure.”

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But, put to him by a viewer that Hamilton was completely serious in his suggestion, Windsor replied: “If he was, I’m very disappointed because that is the most ridiculous suggestion from Lewis.

“There are a million other suggestions you could make, like getting rid of the cost cap – that would be much more benefit to Mercedes if they got rid of the cost cap. Why isn’t he suggesting that?

“That makes more sense to me than to say Red Bull shouldn’t be allowed to work on [next year’s car] – it’s just ridiculous.”

What do some of the F1 team bosses think of Lewis Hamilton’s suggestion?

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner believes the idea is simply unenforceable.

Speaking to the media in Austria, he joked: “Well, [Lewis is] obviously talking from personal experience!

“I think it would be an incredibly hard thing to police. How on earth could you say ‘Right, August 1, go!’ How do you prevent people thinking about or working on next year’s cars?”

Speaking to PlanetF1.com, Guenther Steiner also said the idea would only cause problems.

“How would you enforce it? What is the year after and what is this year?” he said.

“Everything you do for this year is for next year, how would you divide it? We would create a problem for ourselves that we cannot solve.

“Because, even if you want to be honest, everything you do now is for next year. What I learn now, I apply next year, you know? Yes, there’s a design for a new chassis, but it’s the aero.

“The aero you develop this year, you will carry over what you learn to next year. So I think that’s something that’s very difficult to do.”

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