Parc Ferme: Championship breaks

As we head into the Formula 1 summer break, the Belgium Grand Prix served up a salient reminder of Red Bull’s and Max Verstappen’s total control over the World Championship.

The betting odds for Max to take victory in Spa sat at a -350-money line, even with a five-place grid penalty. And a whopping -450 to take the Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship. I didn’t even check what they were for Red Bull Racing to take the Constructors’ trophy, but I expect that’s even lower.

Development capped

A team or driver dominating an F1 season or seasons is nothing new. Hamilton and Mercedes, Schumacher and Ferrari, Senna and Prost at McLaren… the list goes on. F1’s history is littered with rule tampering to address this issue.

However, we have now entered a period of relative regulatory stabilization for chassis and engines. Combine this with the F1 Cost Cap, and you effectively freeze the status quo.

Unintended consequences

Whilst difficult to administer, this is not a bad approach. If the idea was to provide an antidote to individual teams or drivers nailing the Championship halfway through the season, then it has been a success. A success, that is, if you exclude Red Bull and Max from the equation.

If you look at the race results from second back to fourth this year, you’ll see a good mix of Teams and drivers results! Unfortunately, when Pat Symonds and Ross Brawn et al, crafted the 2022 F1 regulations, they failed to consider the “Newey Factor” and what would happen if a team designed a car that was so far ahead of the rest of the grid. No blame here. Hindsight is twenty-twenty vision, of course.

Fortress Red Bull

However, we are now faced with an RB19 that is faster through the corners (mechanical or downforce). Faster in a straight line (stalls the diffuser), appears to get the tyres to work quickly and then extends their life.

But that’s not the best bit, I saved the real magic to last; it delivers insane rear grip but allows the car to turn in on a sixpence! Max, as an exceptional talent, just amplifies these advantages further.

When you package this all together with an incredibly well-led and focused team, it’s game over.

Race, win, repeat

Whatever the RB19 has going on, it has to be more than a floor and some nice tunnels. Ironically, I would put it on par with the Lotus 78 in terms of competitive advantage over the other teams, although with Max in the seat, I might be underselling it.

In the past, Teams with deep pockets would have poured development dollars into the F1 money pit to catch up. The cost cap now prevents this, so I don’t see how things are going to change for the foreseeable future.

And for anyone who’s now finding the Dutch and Austrian National anthems a tad annoying, I suggest you buy some earplugs.

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