The 2021 season saw the Haas F1 team spend more money repairing their cars after crashes than any other team on the grid. The costs concerned are unwelcome for a team that has failed to score a single point throughout the season.
Courtesy of rookie drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, Haas accrued more than six million euros in crash damage costs. Meanwhile, Schumacher topped the charts for the highest damage cost incurred by a single driver, with €4,212,500.
In light of the $145 million budget cap that came into effect this year, crash damage costs have become extremely important for F1 teams. Every dollar spent on repairing a damaged car takes away a potential dollar that can be spent on developing the car.
The damage costs incurred by Haas are especially painful for the team, as they chose not to develop their car for 2021, but to instead focus on the 2022 technical regulations. The team, reeling from the financial difficulties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, considered the 2021 season, a transitional year.
Further up the grid, the damages incurred by Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes from a few high-profile crashes in Imola, Silverstone, and Hungary led to the teams expressing concerns about the cost of crashes affecting their 2022 season development.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, cost the Italian constructor €4,046,000 (just €166,500 shy of Schumacher), while the damages incurred by Max Verstappen cost Red Bull €3,889,000 throughout the season.
Meanwhile, Alpine spent the least money of all the teams on repairing their cars this year at just €595,000, courtesy of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon keeping their noses clean to sit at the bottom of the crash chart.
The full list of driver crash damages incurred by teams in 2021 (courtesy of Sky Germany) is as follows:
- Mick Schumacher, Haas - €4,212,500
- Charles Leclerc, Ferrari - €4,046,000
- Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing - €3,889,000
- Nicholas Latifi, Williams - €3,116,500
- Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes - €2,713,500
- Lance Stroll, Aston Martin - €2,686,000
- Yuki Tsunoda, Alpha Tauri - €2,606,500
- Nikita Mazepin, Haas - €2,468,000
- Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing - €1,950,000
- George Russell, Williams - €1,845,000
- Carlos Sainz, Ferrari - €1,756,000
- Lando Norris, McLaren - €1,453,000
- Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes - €1,235,000
- Pierre Gasly, Alpha Tauri - €1,113,000
- Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing - €939,000
- Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Racing - €854,000
- Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren - €713,000
- Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin - €660,000
- Fernando Alonso, Alpine - €315,000
- Esteban Ocon, Alpine - €280,000
2022 cars could widen the gap between F1 teams again
The 2021 season witnessed one of the closest performance gaps between teams in F1 history, with six different drivers winning a race and a further seven drivers standing on the podium at least once.
Apart from Haas, who chose not to develop their 2021 challenger, all other teams scored points and hotly contested their championship positions.
Several sections of the F1 community have expressed their concerns about the 2022 season, fearing that the new cars could widen the performance gap between teams. This could potentially allow just a few teams to dominate the championship.
Usually, when radical changes are introduced, the teams that manage to extract the most performance right away tend to dominate the championship, with other teams having to play catch up.
In 2014, Mercedes arrived as the strongest team with their powerful turbo-hybrid power unit and have dominated the sport since. In 2009, Red Bull and Brawn were the quickest teams on the grid, and the latter went on to dominate F1 for the next five years.
The current generation of cars is criticized for their lack of “race-ability”, due to their dependence on over-body downforce. Most teams, however, are within a second of each other in terms of performance, hence delivering exciting races.
To fix this, the new technical regulations aim to create cars that are better at wheel-to-wheel racing. If teams fail to interpret the regulations correctly, however, the risk of a spread-out field is a possibility. This could turn the F1 community's fears true, with boring races dominated by a few, or worse, a single team.