Wolff expects "totally disjointed" F1 field again in 2022

Toto Wolff believes the Formula 1 field will become “totally disjointed” in 2022 when the technical regulations change and that the grid will lose its current performance convergence.

Wolff expects "totally disjointed" F1 field again in 2022

Following a majority freeze in the technical regulations for 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the performance gap between the leading teams and the rest of the grid has dropped this year.

Less than half a second covered the top eight drivers in qualifying for last weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, including drivers from Mercedes, Red Bull, AlphaTauri, Ferrari and McLaren.

At the same race six months earlier, only Lewis Hamilton qualified within half a second of team-mate Valtteri Bottas’ pole position time, with the top eight being covered by more than one second.

F1 is set to overhaul the technical regulations in 2022 after delaying the introduction of the new rules by one year, but many fear the current competitiveness of the field will be lost.

PLUS: Are we at peak F1 right now? 

Mercedes team boss Wolff said it was “quite logical” to expect convergence when the rules were stabilised, cutting the advantage at the front of the pack.

But he was confident that the larger gaps would return next year when the regulations are changed.

“If you keep the rules, the field converges,” Wolff said. “For those in front, the gains get smaller and smaller, even with more effort.

“And at some point, the teams that are behind will also continue this steep form curve, and then there's the convergence.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

“If you look at qualifying today, it's tip-top - the way I felt that was the direction we should go.

“I promise you that next year, we’ll have another situation where we'll have a totally disjointed field. Maybe not with Mercedes in front, but certainly back to square one.”

Mercedes is currently engaged in a close battle with Red Bull at the front of the field, the teams having scored one win apiece in the opening two races.

Wolff said that Mercedes still trailed Red Bull for outright pace at Imola, despite Hamilton beating Sergio Perez to pole, leaving the defending champion team with work to do to catch up.

PLUS: What Mercedes must do to keep its F1 title challenge on track

“We are behind Red Bull at the moment, in all areas of the car,” Wolff said.

“We have to catch up first. I think the racing gods were kind to us in Bahrain, that we got the most out of the car [to win the race]. That was good in the race.

“If everything runs cleanly and everyone stays faultless [in qualifying], we are two-tenths behind Max [Verstappen] on the grid, and not in front.

“But in sport, everything always turns out differently, and Lewis really conjured up a super lap. That's why he was in front.

“We're stretching with everything we've got against what we think is a better Red Bull package.”

shares
comments
How Red Bull’s latest prospect carries the hopes of a nation

Previous article

How Red Bull’s latest prospect carries the hopes of a nation

Next article

McLaren wants return to extra F1 testing in 2022

McLaren wants return to extra F1 testing in 2022
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Mercedes
Author Luke Smith
Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Plus

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to STUART CODLING, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion

Formula 1
May 15, 2021
Does Aston have a case in F1 2021’s big technical row? Plus

Does Aston have a case in F1 2021’s big technical row?

Aston Martin claims Formula 1’s latest technical tweaks have cost it competitiveness – and that it’s the innocent victim of a regulatory stitch-up aimed at pegging back Mercedes. But is any of this actually true? It depends on who you ask, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
May 14, 2021
How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean? Plus

How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But is their rivalry destined to end in broken shards of carbon fibre?

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight Plus

What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight

OPINION: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have recovered from their pre-season woes to take three wins from the opening four races of 2021. But each time Red Bull and Max Verstappen have pushed them hard. So, what clues did the latest round of that battle – the Spanish Grand Prix – tease about the next stage of the season?

Formula 1
May 12, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Plus

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Plus

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Plus

How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021