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F1's new rules will cut gap between front and back in half – FIA

Formula 1's more restrictive aero rules, plus the cost cap, should cut in half the gap between the front and the back of the grid after one year, reckons the FIA.

Mick Schumacher, Haas VF-21, Nicholas Latifi, Williams FW43B, and Nikita Mazepin, Haas VF-21, chase the pack at the start

Mick Schumacher, Haas VF-21, Nicholas Latifi, Williams FW43B, and Nikita Mazepin, Haas VF-21, chase the pack at the start

Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

F1 is embarking on an all-new rules era this season with ground-effect cars aimed at making the racing closer and levelling the playing field much more between teams.

While it is too early to know if the spectacle will be better, F1's chiefs are more optimistic that the overall package of regulations – which include a budget cap and an aero development handicap system – will result in much closer competition.

And with there being around a three-second difference between the front of the field and the back throughout 2021, the FIA's head of single-seater matters Nikolas Tombazis thinks once things settle down after the first year of the new rules, the spread could be down to around 1.5 seconds.

"I think that currently the best to worst [team gap] is probably about three seconds, depending on the circuit," he explained.

"I hope that, after maybe a year, we will have this less than half of that. That is what I would hope, but we'll have to see."

The 2022 Formula 1 car launch event on the Silverstone grid

The 2022 Formula 1 car launch event on the Silverstone grid

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

While there is a belief that the gap between the top teams and the back may be quite big at the start of the 2022 campaign, the prediction is for things to close up quite rapidly once teams understand the new regulations better and know where gains can be made.

"It is difficult to expect it to be more exciting than [2021], because that is a very high point of reference," added Tombazis.

"But I think once there's a bit of convergence, I think there will be more cars in the mix and I think that would be positive.

"When I was looking at some old championships, and I read recently that we once had 11 winners in a year and you could win a championship with a few wins.

"I'm not saying we're going to get to that point, but of course I think to have more variability would be good. Also to have people who can genuinely follow closer for longer periods, and not overheat the tyres, and still be able to fight for prolonged periods, I think that would be quite exciting."

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Tombazis's prediction about a closer grid is backed up by Alfa Romeo team boss Fred Vasseur, who thinks the midfield could be especially compact.

"For sure, Mercedes, Red Bull, and even Ferrari, they will still have a big advantage in terms of technology, resources and so on, no question mark for me," he explained.

"But then, if you have a look one step behind, between I would say P4, P5, to P9, that from one race to another one, you could be in Q3 or P18 in qualy.

"It means that if you took the right direction, made the good choice, and you improve a little bit here and there, you can do a good step forward."

Additional reporting by Luke Smith and Giorgio Piola

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