Lewis Hamilton says that “lots of changes” were implemented in Formula 1 during Mercedes’ dominant period designed to slow the team down to improve the show.
Upon the switch to V6 turbo-hybrid engines, Mercedes embarked on an unprecedented run of winning eight consecutive Constructors’ Championships, overcoming further regulation changes in both 2017 and 2019 to preserve its unbeaten streak.
Meanwhile, in 2020 the FIA introduced a ban on qualifying engine modes, mostly hampering the Mercedes-powered cars, with the team’s Dual Axis Steering (DAS) system, introduced during winter testing, immediately being outlawed for the following year.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic ensured the older generation of cars remained for 2021, rear floor downforce changes impacted the low-rake cars, notably Mercedes’ W13, allowing Red Bull, who ran a high-rake concept, to enter title contention, with Max Verstappen snatching the Drivers’ title.
With Red Bull winning 24 of the previous 25 races under the current regulations, Hamilton was asked whether if should be brought in to reduce the Austrian outfit’s advantage.
“I don’t know what’s been proposed. I’ve not heard anything” Hamilton said ahead of last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
“But we’ve experienced lots of changes, which were put in place to slow us down over the years and I think that it was better for the sport.
“If you look at 2021, for example, our qualifying pace was amazing… I think it’s 2021 or 2020, I can’t remember, but where they took away our qualifying mode, for example, brought us closer in qualifying. And on one side, the engineers just did an incredible job and they deserved that in merit, but I think from a racing fan we want to see all of us a lot closer.”
Red Bull has been ever-present at the front to be on track to become the first team in F1 history to go an entire year undefeated, but the battle behind has regularly changed.
Aston Martin, Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren have all traded turns finishing second to the lead Red Bull this year, leaving Hamilton to admit the 2022 regulations and the implementation of a budget cap on teams’ spending has worked in some regards.
“I think that what you’re seeing behind the Red Bulls, we’ve seen quite a good championship this year, between the Ferraris, Astons and all the teams are looking a lot closer than ever before,” Hamilton continued. “So in some ways, the rule change has worked.”
However, Hamilton insists more leeway must be given to the smaller teams, alluding to Williams’ futile attempt to try and be allowed to accelerate the process of updating its ageing infrastructure earlier this year.
The seven-time World Champion also reiterates that he hopes no team can reign at the top for a prolonged period amid concerns Red Bull might not be caught until the rules are changed next in 2026.
“In others, there’s still some work that needs to be done,” the Briton acknowledged.
“If you look at some of the teams, they’re all capped but some teams don’t have the same resources in terms of whether it’s wind tunnel, whether it’s stuff that’s at the factory that the bigger teams had because they had loads of money to throw at it a long, long time ago and they can’t catch up now.
“So there’s always work to do but I think the sport’s done a great job and I do hope for the fans in future we don’t see Mercedes dominate for 10 years or Ferrari dominate for 10 years or any other team because I think that’s not in the best interest of what us drivers want or what the fans want or what the team want.
“We want close competition and I hope that gets better and better.”