Regardless, imagine now that there was no difficulty in overtaking, that you no longer needed to be at least 1.2sec faster than the car ahead to be able to overtake, that just one or two tenths faster would allow you to do it. Which is what we are expecting of the ’22 cars.
In this scenario Hamilton would have overtaken – maybe towards the end of the first stint as Verstappen’s tyres began dropping off earlier than Hamilton’s. Which would have triggered Red Bull into immediately bringing Verstappen in, so as to use the undercut advantage of new tyres to reclaim track position over the Mercedes.
They’d then be fairly evenly matched again for a while, with Verstappen ahead once more and Hamilton waiting for the Red Bull’s tyres to drop off earlier than his. Then either he’d pass again on track or be brought in for the undercut at the second stop. Or Red Bull would anticipate the Mercedes undercut and pit first. But the last stint would still likely have been some variation of Verstappen leading and Hamilton overtaking him before the end.
So the strategic game would be much the same as it was, but to the casual observer there’d appear to be many more twists and turns because of the overtakes. With this happening throughout the field these races may be quite challenging to stay on top of as a spectator.
F1 races have transitioned over the decades from sprint wheel-to-wheel duels to strategic contests. Next year, if the cars work as planned, will be the first time we have both. It could be wild.