F1 boss urges teams to improve and close gap after Max Verstappen and Red Bull dominance

Stefano Domenicali insists teams can provide better conditions to help drivers produce a closer title race in 2024

Harry Latham-Coyle
Wednesday 08 November 2023 14:57 GMT
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Formula 1’s chief executive has urged teams to improve in order to ensure their drivers can be more competitive and narrow the gap to Max Verstappen and Red Bull after a dominant 2023 season.

Verstappen secured a record 17th win of the 2023 campaign at the Brazilian Grand Prix and has long since sewn up a third consecutive world title.

The Dutchman has dominated the sport since pipping Lewis Hamilton to the 2021 Drivers’ Championship.

While dominance by a single driver or team is far from new, with Hamilton himself securing six titles in seven years between 2014 and 2020, the scale of Verstappen’s superiority has been striking.

And while stressing that F1 could not be seen to be targeting the 26-year-old, Stefano Domenicali has discussed the prospect of teams producing a more competitive car in 2024.

“I think if you look back at the dominance of a driver or a team, it’s always been a part of F1,” Domenicali said to Channel 4.

“We need to consider one thing that for sure Max Verstappen has done and is doing an incredible job. We need to recognise that.

“But if you see [the gaps in qualifying], it’s just incredible. If you look at the numbers of overtaking we are having the last two seasons, we are at the top of the scale.

“We cannot be seen as a sport that is trying to do something against someone, that would be wrong.

“On the other hand, the nature of Formula 1 is to make sure that next year the teams can give to the other drivers - that are very, very strong - the possibility to compete in that field.”

Verstappen leads the Drivers’ Championship standings by a remarkable 266 points from teammate Sergio Perez.

Max Verstappen has claimed his third F1 world title in succession

Only Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz at the Singapore Grand Prix has been able to break Red Bull’s monopoly on race wins this year.

There are just two more races to come before the conclusion of the campaign, with a first trip to Las Vegas followed by the denouement at Abu Dhabi, where Verstappen secured a controversial first crown two years ago.

Hamilton, who fell short on that occasion, raised eyebrows after racing concluded at Interlagos on Sunday when suggesting that Red Bull were so far ahead that other teams would find it too hard to close the gap for the next couple of years.

“The Red Bull, I think, is so far away,” the British driver said. “I think they’re probably going to be very clear for the next couple of years.

The next truly significant change to the sport is set to come in 2026 when new engine regulations will take effect.

It is hoped that this will help level the playing field and attract new engine manufacturers to the sport, with a number already having expressed interest.

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