F1 has made ‘three-year’ backward step in worrying Red Bull and Mercedes prediction

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Red Bull and Mercedes have been told that their Formula One rivals could take another three years to catch up as fresh rules continue to be introduced. The two teams dominated the field in 2021, taking all three podium places in the final Drivers’ World Championship.

A controversial ending to the year saw Max Verstappen crowned the world champion for the first time.  

The Dutchman and rival Lewis Hamilton went into the last race at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix incredibly level on 369.5 points. 

Mercedes were left fuming over a contentious finish involving a safety car. Verstappen ultimately overtook to deny Hamilton a record eighth title.  

Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas came third in the final leaderboard. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was fourth. 

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The closest challenger was Ferrari, whose Carlos Sainz came fifth. McLaren’s Lando Norris finished sixth.  

Former F1 star Stefan Johansson believes that the gap between the top two teams and the rest is shrinking.  

However, the Swede has warned that new rule changes are likely to prolong the time in which it takes for the chasing pack to catch up to at least three years.  

Ahead of the 2022 season, several rules, including around a car’s aerodynamics, have been introduced. 

And Johansson believes that it will benefit Red Bull and Mercedes, with Verstappen most likely to take advantage.  

“The midfield was certanly bigger this year than it has been for a long time,” the former McLaren and Ferrari driver wrote on his blog. 

“There are quite a few cars that, when they get it right on the day, can be up there.  

“We saw this with both McLaren and Alpine who won a race each when all the stars lined up perfectly for them. 

“Had the rules remained the same for next season, I think the grid would be even tighter. I keep saying it but the easiest way to even up the field and get close racing is rules stability. 

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“Eventually the smaller, less well-resourced teams will catch up. We’ve seen that many times over the years.  

“But as soon as the rules change, you’ll have one, maybe two teams that have the resources and talent to get it right out of the gate.  

“The rest spend the next three years catching up again. 

“I’m worried we’re going to have the same scenario again. My gut tells me that with the drastic changes in aerodynamics for next season Red Bull will probably be the team that gets closest to where it needs to be the fastest.”

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