Lewis Hamilton made it clear that he did not have Max Verstappen in mind when calling for the FIA to prevent teams from making an early switch to focusing on their challenger for the following season.
Red Bull have ensured that their 2022 dominance has rolled over into F1 2023, and with eight wins from the opening eight rounds, already a further title double looks to be in the bag.
Verstappen has won six of these eight grands prix, establishing a lead of 69 points over Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.
Lewis Hamilton calls for F1 rule change
And speaking ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, Hamilton had a bold suggestion in mind for how eras of dominance which have characterised much of Formula 1’s history can be brought to an end.
Red Bull’s all-conquering F1 2023 form means they are already focusing on next season’s RB20, but Hamilton feels a team should not be allowed to make that switch so early, as it only serves as a way to allow the domination to continue.
“I think the FIA should probably put a time when everyone is allowed to start developing for the next year’s car,” Hamilton proposed to Sky F1.
“So August 1, that’s when everybody can start, so that no one can get an advantage from the next year. Because that sucks.”
Verstappen had a rather blunt response for his former title rival, pointing to the fact that Hamilton himself enjoyed a streak of dominance with Mercedes, proceeding this Verstappen era, which led to record-breaking success, including six World titles for Hamilton.
“We weren’t talking about that when he was winning his Championships, right? So I don’t think we should now,” Verstappen told Sky F1.
“That’s how Formula 1 works.”
Lewis Hamilton not aiming dig at Max Verstappen
Hamilton would offer his reply to those words from Verstappen, acknowledging that he did enjoy that period of F1 domination which Verstappen is now revelling in.
He stressed though that his comments were not simply in response to Verstappen now being the unstoppable force, but instead were a plea to ensure that their examples do not continue to reoccur in the future.
“It’s not like aimed at any one particular person or anything,” he is quoted by Crash.net. “It’s just that obviously in my 17 years of being here… before even I got here, you would see periods of dominance.
“It continues to happen. I think as a sport, we do at some stage – I was really fortunate to have one of those periods that Max is having now but with the way it’s going, it will continue to happen over and over again.
“And I don’t think we need that in the sport. Just from my personal experience, when you’re so far ahead, you’re 100 points ahead, you don’t really need to do a lot more development on your car, so you can start earlier on your next car.
“With the budget cap that means spending that year’s car money on next year’s car, but if everyone had a cut-off, a time, everyone knew that it could then start – whatever date it is, October, probably too late, but August 1 [for example], something like that, that nobody has a head start and it’s a real race in that short space of time for the future car.
“I don’t know, maybe that would help everyone be more level and closer the following year.
I might be wrong but something’s got to change because if you continue having- when we were winning world championships we could start earlier than everybody else.
“Then there are teams that weren’t competitive so then they didn’t bother working on that current car… you look at Brawn, they just focused fully on next year’s car from the beginning and then they turned up next year and blitzed everybody.
“And that shouldn’t be possible, in my opinion. It’s not for me to judge but it would be cool to see in the next 20 years that if we don’t have huge bands of time where one team can be too far ahead.
“We want to see better racing.”
Hamilton sits P4 in the current Drivers’ standings with 102 points to Verstappen’s 195.