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F1 2022 runaway leaders will be closed down fast, says Domenicali

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali believes that any early runaway leaders next year will find its advantage wiped away very quickly.

The 2022 Formula 1 car launch event on the Silverstone grid. L-R: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing, Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Racing, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, George Russell, Williams, Nicholas Latifi, Williams, Lando Norris, McLaren, Nikita Mazepin, Haas F1, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren and Nikita Mazepin, Haas F1

The 2022 Formula 1 car launch event on the Silverstone grid. L-R: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing, Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Racing, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, George Russell, Williams, Nicholas Latifi, Williams, Lando Norris, McLaren, Nikita Mazepin, Haas F1, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren and Nikita Mazepin, Haas F1

Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

F1 teams are currently working hard on their designs for the all-new ground effect cars that will come in to play in 2022.

And, after an ultra-competitive 2021 campaign, there have been some fears voiced that the change of regulations could trigger more of a field spread with some teams having found better ways to unlock performance.

F1 has not shied away from the fact that there is the possibility of one or two squads being well clear at the front in the early stages of the new regulations.

But Domenicali has no doubts that, with teams still finding their way with the new rules, any advantages gained from the start of the campaign will be very quickly eroded.

Speaking exclusively to Autosport, Domenicali said: “It is clear that in the context of a season that starts with a new regulation and the budget cap, differences between the cars could emerge greater than what people might expect.

“But I am equally sure that the limitations linked to the new regulations will mean that if there are these differences, the gap will be closed more quickly.”

Ross Brawn, Managing Director of Motorsports, and Stefano Domenicali, CEO, Formula 1

Ross Brawn, Managing Director of Motorsports, and Stefano Domenicali, CEO, Formula 1

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Domenicali’s belief about the competitive picture changing quickly has been backed by Ferrari, which reckons that the critical thing next year will be how fast teams can respond to their competitive situation at the beginning of the campaign.

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto said: “It may be that at the start to the season there will be difference in competitiveness between the cars, because of the ways in which each team may have interpreted the rules and the solutions they may bring.

“Here what I think will be important as Ferrari is being capable of understanding weaknesses and addressing them very quickly. So it's the team reaction that will be key.

“We cannot be confident of having a competitive car from the start, because you never know what may happen when you’ve got such a big rule change. But it is about being capable of addressing it as soon as possible.”

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Domenicali remains bullish that the new generation of cars should put more emphasis on driver talent – and that could lead to plenty more battles.

"We are facing a season in 2022 where there are so many new elements that can be characterised in a positive or negative sense,” he said.

“The ground effect cars have been designed to highlight the skills of the drivers. They are machines that should be driven, without the wake [dirty air] effect that deteriorates the tyres. The goal is to have duels between many drivers, without having the limits related to the car.”

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