2022 rules mean upgrades no longer so powerful
A good set up gives "more progress than any new part"
Formula 1’s new regulations are succeeding in helping the smaller teams to fight their most powerful rivals.
That is the view of Gunther Steiner, boss of the small American outfit Haas.
While rival small outfit Williams adopted Red Bull-like sidepods recently, as did Aston Martin with its so-called ’green Red Bull’, Haas is managing to keep up simply by tweaking the car setup race-on-race.
"We are becoming more and more certain about how we have to set up our car," Steiner confirmed.
Team driver Kevin Magnussen agrees: "For a while, that gave us more progress than any new part. But now the land gains are getting smaller."
That’s why an update is now coming at Haas, and Steiner thinks it will be worth "more than two tenths".
"We wouldn’t have put in the effort for less than that," he said.
Therefore, while championing the budget cap, Steiner also praises the new ground-effect technical regulations that came into force this season.
"I think it is a bit harder than it was in the old days, because the upgrades people brought have not been as big as they were years ago," he said.
"It’s much more difficult to find performance with these technical regulations than it was before. So we have also to say these technical regulations are pretty good."
F1 giant Ferrari agrees with that assessment, with boss Mattia Binotto noting that "only small progress can be made with upgrades" now.
"The rules are too restrictive and you are trapped in your concept," he added.
It has also proved a problem for the smaller teams, with one source telling Auto Motor und Sport: "None of the Red Bull copies have really worked.
"Because no one knows exactly what Red Bull is doing under the car to keep the flow stable. It doesn’t help to simply copy the shape of the sidepods."
It means the head-to-head between the title-charging teams is now spilling over into a behind-the-scenes argument, with Toto Wolff his recent "shock" to learn about Red Bull’s allegedly flexible floor.
"That is complete nonsense," the Mercedes boss’ counterpart at Red Bull, Christian Horner, insists.
"There are absolutely no problems with our floor."
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