Formula One’s managing director of motorsport, Ross Brawn, has labelled the gap between the sport’s top three teams and the rest of the field “unacceptable”.
Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have won every race in Formula One since the start of the 2014 season and the performance gap between those three and the rest of the field is rarely under a second per lap. Force India’s Sergio Perez is the only driver outside of those three teams to finish on the podium this year, at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in April, and Renault, which finished fourth in the constructors’ championship, was 297 points shy of Red Bull in third place by the end of the year.
“They were practically racing in their own championship, with far too big a performance gap between them and Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull,” Brawn said. “As was the case in 2017, only once and significantly, on a very unusual street circuit like Baku, did a driver from one of those seven teams make it to the podium. Last year it was Lance Stroll in the Williams, this time it was Sergio Pérez for Force India.
“Two podiums from a total of 123 is unacceptable, especially when it comes with an ever increasing technical and financial divide.”
Formula One is hoping to address the divide with a series of regulation changes in 2021 and a budget cap that will reduce expenditure to $150 million by 2023. Brawn said the issue is currently at the top of the sport’s priorities.
“It’s a problem we are tackling together with the FIA and the teams, because the future of Formula One depends on it. There are various solutions on the table and we must all accept that we can’t go on like this for too much longer.
“I don’t mean to cause offence by referring to the ‘other’ championship, it’s just a way of describing the situation and their battle was certainly thrilling. However, it’s hard for the fans to truly get excited about a battle for eighth place.
“Having said that, congratulations to Renault for finishing fourth, confirming the progress it is making and to Haas, as finishing fifth in only your third year in the sport is a great achievement.
“Sauber fought back after struggling for the previous two years, partly thanks to the talents of Leclerc. But a special word goes out to the men and women of Force India who worked hard all season without letting themselves get distracted by the serious problems that affected the company and threatened its very existence. I think that managing to keep Force India on the grid and assuring it a stable future is one of the most important things that happened in 2018.”