Russell pace showed why "machine-driven" F1 needs to change - Sainz
Carlos Sainz believes George Russell's performance for Mercedes in the Sakhir Grand Prix proves that "machine-driven" Formula 1 is stifling talent and not allowing the greatest drivers to shine.
Russell has spent most of his two years in F1 at the back driving an under-performing Williams but was immediately on the pace when he stepped up to replace Covid-hit Lewis Hamilton in the world championship-winning Mercedes W11.
McLaren driver Sainz feels Russell made a statement that the sport needs to level the playing field to put more emphasis on driver ability, instead of putting the focus on designing the best car possible.
“It’s a shame that a guy [Russell] who is fighting for P15 every weekend, you put him in a race-winning car and suddenly he is 23 thousandths off pole," said Sainz.
“It demonstrates what Formula 1 is missing out on, making a much more incredible show levelling the playing field and allowing the driver to make more of the difference.
"At the moment, when you are one second off the pace or two seconds off the pace, you cannot really see until the last two tenths a driver that makes the difference. Formula 1 is missing out on getting the grid a bit tighter.”
Sainz is currently embroiled in a fascinating midfield battle, in which Racing Point, McLaren, Renault and at times Ferrari and AlphaTauri, have been fighting it out behind world champions Mercedes and second-place team Red Bull.
The cars are so closely matched in this part of the grid that drivers can make a real difference, but Sainz believes that will never happen at the front while teams are allowed to develop cars with such limited restrictions.
The short Outer Track in Bahrain, which had a lap time of less than a minute, made things even closer, and Sainz believes that delivered a much more exciting battle than usually seen on the more traditional longer circuits.
He continued: "There is so much talent on the grid right now that all drivers could be within three-tenths of each other in a qualifying lap [but] we are fighting for two seconds from the beginning to the end of the grid.”
Auto racing has always been such. Unless you go to a 'spec' series, where every car is as identical as possible. This discourages development and would not interest car builders. If you want a series like that, revive the International Race of Champions.
Sadly the sport is clearly divided by the cars, that's one reasons I also enjoy watching FormulaE and F2 races because they are much closer and freely far more on driver skill
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