Asked who would win if all F1 drivers were in the same car, 1992 World Champion Nigel Mansell said you would need to “retire Adrian Newey” to make a level playing field possible.
Formula 1 ushered in a new era of challengers from 2022 utilising ground effect aerodynamics, and it has been Red Bull schooling the field.
Their dominance has only grown in F1 2023, Red Bull having won 17 of the 18 grands prix, with Max Verstappen claiming 15 of those.
No F1 level playing field with Adrian Newey around
Red Bull posses a key weapon over their competition, that being the presence of Newey, who designed title-winning cars for Williams and McLaren before his further successes with Red Bull, who have now claimed six Constructors’ Championships and seven Drivers’ titles.
Mansell knows what it is like to drive a Newey design to title success, having done so with Williams in 1992, and he hailed the 64-year-old as a “genius” whose presence means that fantasy world of F1 drivers battling it out in equal machinery is off limits.
“Well for a level playing field, what you need to do is retire Adrian Newey,” Mansell told AceOdds. “He is a genius. Adrian Newey is a genius. It is fantastic.
“And to have him tied up with Red Bull for, you know, his whole career now and everything else is a genius move as well.
“And I have to say, dynamic team, brilliant team, professional team, and everyone’s got to do the same thing. It’s just like when Jean Todt was with Ferrari, with Michael Schumacher and the team and expertise they had there, it happens.
“And just like Mercedes did with Lewis Hamilton for a period of time with all sorts of people working there, they kept the same team together and they were unbeatable. They were for a whole number of years.
“And what’s got to happen now is that Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren and everybody else has got to hopefully dig deep to catch up and it can be wide open for 2024.”
Red Bull were afforded too much of an advantage
When Formula 1 reverted to ground effect challengers, it was all part of a grand plan, along with a budget cap and sliding scale on permitted windtunnel testing time, to bring the grid closer together in challengers designed to make overtaking easier.
However, when asked how Formula 1 can from here make the series more competitive as Red Bull dominate, Mansell feels the advantage being locked in for Red Bull in this era of restricted spending was underestimated.
“I think what they didn’t appreciate was they gave too much of an advantage and they had to catch up with Red Bull,” said Mansell. “Max was on a mission, and I think they’ve caught up.
“Look, just take McLaren as an example and actually take Mercedes as an example as well. At certain races they close the gap a lot. It’s just that, and you only have to look at Singapore, what went wrong with Red Bull there? It’s such a cliff hanging thing to get the car set up properly.
“And anyway, what I’m saying really quickly is that Red Bull had too much of a jump, but everyone’s closed it a little bit. And I just hope, with different things that are going to happen going into 2024, the four big teams, I hope will be very close.”
With Verstappen now on 15 wins for the season, one more in the four remaining F1 2023 rounds will see him break his own record for most grand prix victories in a campaign.