Red Bull boss Christian Horner says the impact this season’s Formula 1 technical regulation changes have had on racing were “rather predictable” due to the domination by Mercedes, but he holds hope for a bigger shake-up with the 2021 rules.

After five consecutive F1 world drivers’ and constructors’ titles, Mercedes’ control on the sport had been predicted to be loosening as both Ferrari and Red Bull provided stronger challenges over the past two seasons.

But with Mercedes stretching clear to a historic five consecutive 1-2 finishes at the start of 2019, Red Bull team principal Horner accepts it is up to the reigning champion’s rivals to close the deficit which was something he feared would be a tall order in 2019 given the lack of significant alterations where teams could uncover advantages.

Despite his concerns, Horner remains hopeful of avoiding a similar pattern when the wider rule changes kick in for 2021.

“Look with the regulation change this year the outcome was rather predictable unfortunately and it’s up to us, the teams competing against Mercedes to close that gap down,” Horner said. “I think for 2021 it’s a clean sheet of paper, it will be a big regulation change and I think one of the things that we debated is that you need to be a little bit careful, because if you release very early regulations then quite the teams that have more resource quite simply put that resource earlier on than the smaller teams.

“So, it’s about finding that balance of when is the right time for full regulations to be released. And I think the cars will be a lot simpler.”

While confirmation on the 2021 rules looks set to miss initial June deadline, with the bulk of F1 team bosses expecting the situation to be resolved by October, Horner believes it will mark the largest shake-up since the introduction of the V6 Hybrid engines which triggered the start of the Mercedes domination in 2014.

With a number of F1 car elements expected to be either simplified or standardised - but will not include standard gearboxes - , as part of the overall target to keep costs down and provide closer racing, Horner wants to see drivers return to being a critical factor in performance.

“Inevitably teams will get it right and teams will get it wrong. But hopefully the concept of what they are looking at should put more inference on the driver to be a bigger variable than he or she currently can be,” he said.

“That’s what Formula 1 desperately needs. It needs the drivers very much to be the stars, to be modern day chariot racers and that we have wheel-to-wheel, exciting, and to a degree, unpredictable racing, because serial winning like we have at the moment, the teams in many respects are getting too good at predicting the outcome of a weekend with the updates they introduce.

“Hats off to Mercedes, they’ve done a better job than anybody to be in the position they are, but hopefully the technical regulations will be the biggest driver to shuffle that around and change that, and hopefully introduce more variance.”

 

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