F1 minnows: New rules will widen competition gap

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 30, 2014 at 3:23 pm •  Published: January 30, 2014
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JEREZ, Spain (AP) — Formula One's sweeping rule changes may be behind defending champion Red Bull's dismal start to the preseason, but the more modest teams on the circuit don't see the makings of a major power shift.

F1 decided to overhaul its rulebook after the 2013 season turned into Sebastian Vettel parading his Red Bull to his fourth consecutive title by winning the last nine races.

However, team bosses and chief engineers told The Associated Press that the move to more expensive turbo engines, along with a plethora of other changes, will only reinforce the dominance of the front-runners better equipped to absorb the increased costs and still spend on other areas of their vehicles.

For a series that oozes money like no other with its lavish motorhomes, many of those who help run the teams that rarely reach the podium expect the gap between the top and bottom to only get bigger.

Williams' chief technical officer, Pat Symonds, said the best way to encourage parity was not through change, but rather by creating "stability," so that all teams can reach a sort of technological mean.

"If you stir up the rules to make it economically more difficult, absolutely no, you are not going to make the racing closer," he said.

Symonds spoke to the AP in Williams' hospitality tent at the end of a row of the other teams' luxurious motorhomes at the Jerez track, where preseason testing is held until Friday.

Symonds joined Williams this season from struggling Marussia to help in what he called a rebuilding of the team, whose ninth and last constructors title came in 1997, last grand prix victory was in 2012 and earned just five points last year.

"Changing to the 2014 power unit and then running the 2014 power unit is very significantly more expensive than it was prior," Symonds said. "Now that hits the smaller and the mid-sized teams much harder than it does the big teams."

Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley said his team and others agreed.

"The disparity between the teams that are lower down the grid and the ones at the front is also connected to how much you can spend on development," Fernley said. "We are all having to spend roughly 100 million euros to go racing; that's to build a car, to go to each of the 19 races. So whatever you've got above that is your development. So if you've got 10 million and Ferrari have got 100 million, there's always going to be a difference."