McLaren F1 technical director James Key says he is surprised at the big gap between the Woking-based team and the teams at the top of the standings in 2022.
The cars have undergone significant changes in their construction this year in an effort to improve racing and tighten competition.
F1 is also in its second year of operating under a budget cap, aimed at reducing spending gaps between teams to increase competitiveness.
However, Red Bull and Ferrari are the only two teams to claim race wins so far in 2022, and have owned the fastest cars this season in all 16 races.
Red Bull are on track to seal the constructors’ and drivers’ championships, with a considerable lead in both standings.
Key admits he is surprised that Red Bull, as well as Ferrari, have been able to stand out from the rest of the field despite spending limitations, hailing their infrastructure and knowledge.
“I guess I’m a bit surprised how two teams were able to find that little bit more performance compared to everyone else,” he admits.
« It was a tighter field at the start of the season, but it’s starting to stretch now, and I have to say Ferrari and Red Bull have done a great job of exploiting more. »
« It goes to show that even under a cost cap, if you’re a big team with an extensive infrastructure and a lot of knowledge and methodology built over many years, that still matters a lot. »
« It’s an even playing field in terms of the budget we have, but it’s not in terms of where we all come from – it gives us a great benchmark to aspire to. »
Pre-season simulations suggested the 2022 regulations were set to make the cars several seconds slower than their predecessors.
However, that didn’t turn out to be the case, with Key praising the engineering abilities of some teams who improved their performance throughout the year.
“What surprised me was that in theory, with the same chassis performance, the 2022 cars should be two seconds slower than the 2021 cars, but that hasn’t been the case. now 2021 levels of performance, and some have already reached it, which reflects the quality of the teams we have in the sport. »