Red Bull weight penalty proposed to bring an end to ‘boring’ F1 era

Michelle Foster
Traffic in Melbourne as drivers practice starts

The F1 drivers in action at the Albert Park circuit.

Weighing in, literally, on the boring dominance of Red Bull versus the purity of Formula 1 racing, Paul Stoddart says a “penalty of five kilograms for the reigning world champions” could make all the difference.

Formula 1’s ground-effect aerodynamic era has been dominated by a Red Bull in a way rivals claim has never been done before.

‘There are always ways to do something about it…’

Winning 17 of the first year’s 22 Grands Prix followed by 21 of the second year’s 22 races, Red Bull have an impressive record of 38 wins from 44 races, as well as two Drivers’ and two Constructors’ Championship titles. The latter of which was a 1-2 with Max Verstappen topping the standings ahead of Sergio Perez.

But on track for a repeat performance this season where it seems only reliability stands between Verstappen and P1 after the Dutchman dominated in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia before a rear brake fire put him out of the Australian Grand Prix, it has been said, and with greater volume, F1 2024 could be boring.

“It is!” former team boss Stoddart conceded to “Unfortunately, that’s what happens when one team or one driver dominates year after year.”

He, however, has a simple solution to the problem, or at the least five kilograms worth of help.

“But there are always ways to do something about it,” he continued. “I would personally be in favour of, for example, a penalty of five kilograms for the reigning World Champion.

“That should be enough to level things out again, while still allowing the good drivers to win. They would have little problem with that.”

“But,” he added, “it is a difficult issue because you are starting to touch the purity of racing.” recommends

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Paul Stoddart’s ‘not so pure’ solution

Stoddart reckons under Bernie Ecclestone’s reign prior to Liberty Media buying Formula 1, F1 always had “things changed every few years, which made it not so easy to stay at the top” but “we live in a different world now”.

He feels F1’s current ATR sliding scale does not go far enough.

“It is already the case that the teams that do well get less time in the wind tunnel. So why not a small penalty for the driver, to even things out a bit on that front?

“It may not be pure, but the same could be said of the limitations imposed on the teams when developing the car and using the wind tunnel. Those things aren’t pure either. Ultimately, it’s about finding a good balance.”

The former Minardi boss believes F1’s owners Liberty Meda should step in.

“Liberty Media has taken Formula 1 into the stratosphere in terms of the sport’s popularity – helped by things like Drive to Survive – but they now need to ensure it continues to move in the right direction.

“And if there is dominance year after year, that doesn’t help. It’s a difficult one.

“On the other hand, it is also up to a team to find or develop something that others do not, as we saw with Brawn in 2009. Ross knew at the end of 2008 that he had a good car for the following year and proved he was right, despite the fact that another engine had to be installed and there was no money.

“Jenson won the Drivers’ title and Brawn the Constructors’ title. So it is possible.”

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