Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali hopes to see the pack close in on Red Bull, but suggests the new-wave F1 fans will not be put off if not.
The new Technical Regulations rolled out for 2022, alongside the budget cap and sliding scale on wind tunnel testing allowances, were all designed to, in the coming years, create a far more level playing field in Formula 1, with cars designed to make following another car easier.
So far though it is Red Bull that has pulled away from the pack, winning a comfortable title double in 2022, while their margin of dominance seems to have only increased in the early stages of F1 2023.
With three rounds gone, Red Bull have claimed all three poles and victories on offer, two for Max Verstappen and one for Sergio Perez in both of those tallies.
One-team domination is of course far from new in Formula 1, Mercedes having won eight Constructors’ titles in a row from 2014-21, plus seven Drivers’ titles, while before that F1 witnessed Red Bull’s first dominant streak.
In the past such predictability over the leading force would be rather testing for fan interest, but with Formula 1 now enjoying an explosion of new fans, the series’ president says a trend has prevailed where these fans are not deterred at all by a dominant team.
Quizzed on this almighty start to F1 2023 from Red Bull during an investor call, Domenicali said: “First of all, if a team is faster than the others, congratulations, they did a better job than the others.
“If you look at the others, the other teams are very close. I’m very confident that with the budget cap, the situation will evolve in the best way for the better competition.
“But on the other hand, what is interesting to see in the new markets, where the new audience is coming in, that is not a really important factor. It’s more, let’s say, for the avid fans that if you see a car that is dominant, that is creating a level of less interest.
“For the new market, for the new fans that are coming to the business, this is not really very important. And for us, it’s important because we want to make sure there is a great competition in the ecosystem, but I would say if I look today, in the market where we are growing, this factor is not so relevant as you think. And this is in a way very interesting to share, but that’s the truth.”
Domenicali also argued that with only three rounds out of 23 gone so far in F1 2023, it is too early to assume that Red Bull will remain an untouchable force and run away with proceedings.
The former Ferrari boss admitted that a big question mark hanging over Red Bull in that regard is their wind tunnel penalty, the team having been docked 10 percent of their allotted time for a minor breach of the 2021 cost cap.
Red Bull already were due to receive the least out of all 10 teams as the reigning Constructors’ champs.
“Is it too early or premature [to say Red Bull dominate again in 2023]? For sure,” said Domenicali.
“We see the first three races, Red Bull was very, very competitive, I’m expecting the others to catch up, we need to wait and see the effect of the penalty that they had last year with the wind tunnel reduction.
“The Championship is very long, and ideally, we could have good surprises before the end.”
Red Bull’s Drivers’ Championship leader Max Verstappen takes a 15-point lead over team-mate Sergio Perez into the upcoming Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Red Bull meanwhile are 58 points clear of Aston Martin already at the top of the Constructors’ standings.