F1 needs stability to avoid "same old mistakes" - Wolff
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff suggests that Formula 1 could be repeating the mistakes of the past in thinking that a big rules overhaul for 2021 will help close the field up.
F1 chiefs are currently pushing hard for a major change to the regulations for two years' time aimed at making grand prix racing more exciting and more competitive.
But while Wolff is in favour of a number of tweaks that are coming – including a budget cap – he suggests that expecting new chassis regulations to stop the top teams being at the front is wrong.
Asked by Motorsport.com for his feelings on the impact of a major rules change, Wolff said: "The default reaction in the past when a team or the big three teams were running away with the championship is that we change the regulations, because you believe that by changing the regulations the others may catch up.
"I think it's exactly the opposite, which is counter intuitive, that eventually performance converges. We have seen that with the power unit regulations that have been stable for a while, and I think if we left the chassis regulations alone more teams would be closer together.
"But as in the past, teams lobby for change because they believe rolling the dice can be an advantage for them. But we look at the 2019 regulation and the 2018 regulations and none of that has happened.
"The teams that were in front, they increased the gaps they had, so we are back to square one. We are making that mistake over and over again."
Wolff said that history has shown time and again that some of the best eras of F1 have been when the rules have been left along for a while.
"There is one single key that makes the racing better and that is a field that is bunched up, where there is not a big gap between the top teams and the smaller teams," he explained. "The only way of doing that is leave the rules alone.
"Every time you change the regs, the big teams with more resource will run away. Maybe there is an outlier from time to time that one team looks good and we have seen that with Alfa Romeo [this year] which looked very good in testing in Barcelona, but then because of the sheer might of our resource Ferrari, Red Bull and us, the rate of development is much steeper [and we have overtaken them].
"So the only way of really having proper racing is don't change the rules. We've seen the 2012 season and there were six different winners and the tyres, fair enough, were a bit of an unknown, but the longer the rules stay stable the more performance is going to converge."
Wolff added that he believed rivals would be sceptical about listening to his stance on changing rules.
"It is very difficult from our position to be credible and to be heard because people think we want to maintain rules as they are in order to maintain our advantage," he said. "The opposite is actually the case. Leave it alone and performance will converge."
Additional reporting by Scott Mitchell and Rene Fagnan
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