Formula 1 fans should not expect the break caused by the coronavirus pandemic to have altered the pecking order, according to McLaren boss Andreas Seidl, who reckons changes are unlikely until 2022.
Formula 1’s year-on-year regulations have remained relatively stable in anticipation of the overhaul that was set for 2021, but that has now been postponed for 12 months.
Only Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have won grands prix since 2014 while last season just McLaren and Toro Rosso – twice – managed to score a podium.
Formula 1 spent two months on shutdown due to the pandemic while the prolonged break since testing allowed teams further analysis of their 2020 cars.
But Seidl dismissed any notions of a change in the hierarchy, saying “with the way the regulations are now, also with the huge carry over of this year’s car into next year, I expect pretty much the same balance of power, or performance, between the top three teams and the midfield.
“With what we have seen in Barcelona [in February] I think we can expect a very strong Racing Point, with the way they developed the car together with Mercedes they will be strong.
“We expect a very strong fight again in the midfield, and I think first time we could see probably a bit of a shake-up of the field is probably 2022/23 once the budget cap is washing out and once the new regulations are coming in.”
Formula 1 proposed introducing a reversed-grid race to replace qualifying at the second grands prix in Austria and Britain, though these plans were rejected by Mercedes.
Seidl sympathised with Mercedes’ stance but suggested it is a missed opportunity due to the stable regulations.
“I still have this dream that with the new regulations from ‘22 onwards and budget cap hopefully we get to a situation again we could have with same regulations for everyone, with not having any artificial overtaking devices, we simply have a great show with a competitive field and cars that can race each other very close.
“At the same time we have to face reality.
“So this year and next year we can expect a similar pecking order again with a decent gap again between the top three teams and the rest, similar to what we have seen in previous years.
“Looking at that it would have been an ideal opportunity to try something new, and of course a team like McLaren would have been up for that.
“It would have been a great opportunity to score big results which are simply not possible to achieve in normal races at the moment for a team like us. “But I fully understand that a team like Mercedes, being so dominant and competitive, looking strong on the winter, they cannot accept an introduction of random racing and that’s how I see it.”