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Horner rubbishes Hamilton’s new F1 car delay idea

Red Bull Formula 1 boss Christian Horner has rubbished Lewis Hamilton’s suggestion to legislate when teams can start work on their new cars to prevent periods of dominance.

 Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing Team Principal

Speaking during the Austrian Grand Prix weekend, seven-time world champion Hamilton  acknowledged that the championship was now in another period of one-team dominance given the run of ground-effects form currently enjoyed by Max Verstappen and Red Bull.

The Mercedes driver accepted that he had been the beneficiary of such levels of command previously, but that reckons this pattern of ‘superteams’ will happen “over and over again”.

To allow the field to converge, he therefore recommended that teams should not be allowed to begin work on their car for the following season until a defined date.

He pitched: “When you're 100 points ahead, you don't really need to do a lot more development on your car. You can start earlier on your next car. With a budget cap that means spending that year's money on the next year's car.

“But if everyone had a time for example, if everyone knew when we can really start, whatever date it is, then no one has a head start. Then it's a real race in that short space of time for the future car.

“Maybe that would help everyone be closer the following year, maybe. I might be wrong. But something's got to change. When we were winning world championships, we could start earlier than everybody else.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

However, Horner dismissed this idea ahead of Verstappen scoring a 10th consecutive GP victory for Red Bull at its home circuit.

He reckons that, practically, such a proposal would be hard to enforce and F1 history shows that the competitive order tends to converge when the rules are left alone.

Horner said: “[Hamilton is] obviously talking from personal experience.

“I think it would be an incredibly hard thing to police. How on earth could you say, ‘Right, 1 August, go?’ How do you prevent people thinking about or working on next year’s cars?

“We have a handicap system in Formula 1 through the reduction of wind tunnel time that there is. Franz [Tost, AlphaTauri team principal] has almost double the amount of time that we have. That is a significant handicap.

“Aston Martin [third in the constructors’ championship] will start to feel that as it’s reset at the mid-point of the year. For us, we have to pick and choose very sparingly what we are going to commit to putting through the wind tunnel.

“So, it will have an effect, and that system didn’t exist years ago, so we will see that playing, and I think the most important thing, and the history of Formula 1 demonstrates it, is stability.

“Not messing with the regulations will always create convergence.

“You can see that convergence is already starting to happen. By the time we get to the end of 2025, probably all the teams will be very converged, and then we screw it all up and go again in 2026.”

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