F1’s Sporting boss Ross Brawn pointed out an extremely alarming stat after the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi last year. The Brit told everyone the small number of podium finishes for the current midfield teams in 2017 and 2018. He described it as ‘’unacceptable.’’
"They were practically racing in their own championship, with far too big a performance gap between them and Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
As was the case in 2017, only once and significantly, on a very unusual street circuit like Baku, did a driver from one of those seven teams make it to the podium.
Last year it was Lance Stroll in the Williams, this time it was Sergio Perez for Force India.
Two podiums from a total of 123 is unacceptable, especially when it comes with an ever-increasing technical and financial divide.
There are various solutions on the table and we must all accept that we can't go on like this for too much longer.
I don't mean to cause offence by referring to the 'other' championship, it's just a way of describing the situation and their battle was certainly thrilling.
However, it's hard for the fans to truly get excited about a battle for eighth place.’’
Is he right?
Ross Brawn’s comments are spot on and it’s important that the people in a position of power in the sport are recognising this.
If it wasn’t for those crazy races at Baku where the top runners didn’t get involved in trouble or had luck, Stroll or Perez wouldn’t have finished on the podium and the record would be 0 out of 123.
As the Englishman also said, they were racing in their own championship and have been doing so for the past two seasons in particular.
Even at the start of the V6 era in 2014, the season was dominated by three teams: Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams. They filled 52 of the 57 available spots on the podium that year. 10 drivers did score a rostrum finish that year compared to 7 in 2017 and 2018, however.
Podium finishes for drivers outside the top three teams (2014-2018) *based on the constructors' standings from each season
Alonso, Ricciardo: 2
Button, Magnussen, Kvyat, Bottas, Stroll: 1
The reality is that two or three teams have been dominating the podium positions in F1 for a long time now. It’s nothing new.
Back in 2002 when Ross Brawn worked at Ferrari during their dominant period, the Italian team, Williams and McLaren (two former giants now very much in Class B) occupied 50 of the 51 podium spots that season. Eddie Irvine’s 3rd place finish at Monza in the Jaguar stopped a clean sweep for the big three.
It’s a long-term problem that needs fixing. The massive differences in the distribution of the prize money leave teams outside of the big three with next to no chance of being able to close the gap.
Without a doubt, it’s important that we don’t see F1 become a spec series, but the sport is very much in two tiers right now: Class A (Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull) and Class B (the remaining seven teams).
We need to see some variety and, frankly, we need to have seasons like 2012 on a more regular basis.