Formula 1 faces the risk of its new generation of cars being slower than Formula 2 in 2021, warns Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer.
The FIA and F1’s owner Liberty Media have agreed a radical new rules package with the teams for next year that is aimed at closing up the grid and making racing more exciting.
But although part of the motivation behind the changes is to help smaller teams like Racing Point, Szafnauer is concerned that watering down the rules could have some unintended consequences.
Speaking to Autosport about whether or not he liked the 2021 plans, Szafnauer said: “I should. But my fear is we’re dumbing down the sport too much for a fallacy of anybody can win on any Sunday.
“If we go six seconds a lap slower, it’s not Formula 1 any more.
“And before you know it, we’re going to have to slow F2 down.
“In F2, $2million will buy a ride, but if we’re not careful in 2021, those F2 cars that you spend $2m on it will be faster than we are with what we’re spending $200m on.
“There’s something wrong about that.”
At the 2019 F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi, Lewis Hamilton’s pole position time of 1m34.779s was 15 seconds clear of Sergio Sette Camara’s F2 pole lap of 1m49.751s.
The slowest F1 driver was Williams’s Robert Kubica, who set a 1m39.236s in qualifying.
The gap between F1 and F2 has been closer at other venues though, and at Monaco there was a 10-second difference between pole-position times – with Kubica just seven seconds clear of the fastest F2 car.
Szafnauer said he would prefer F1 to be stricter with its budget cap but then open up the design rules to ensure teams can chase optimum performance.
“Personally, I would say smaller budget cap,” he said.
“But underneath that budget capital, latitude to develop the car as we have today. So if you have a small-budget car, the smarter guy wins.
“If you have prescriptive design, then you are IndyCar and if somebody else wins, they have maybe a better driver, or engineering team or whatever.
“And that’s not what we want.
“There are other formulas in the world that already exists that are like that, and how are they doing?”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner has argued that F1 should have introduced the budget cap, which will be set at $175m, before the new rules are introduced to avoid the 2020 season turning in to a spending war.
Asked if he agreed with that, Szafnaeur said on the cost cap: “Too late maybe, too high definitely.
“I agree with the view that Horner brought up which was we should have the budget cap come in before the regulations change so there isn’t one year of high spending, which is next year.
“I would have staggered it a bit different: first budget cap and then new rules.”