Haas boss Guenther Steiner says Formula One is not as far away from closing the gap between the top three teams and the midfield as 2017's results have suggested.
Formula One bosses are due to table a proposal for a budget cap by the end of 2017, a fee expected to be somewhere in the region of £150 million a year. That limit would not be implemented immediately and, assuming there is agreement on the initial proposal, is likely to come into effect by 2020.
When asked about whether bringing performance closer together is an achievable goal for F1, Steiner told ESPN: "At the moment, it is impossible, because the budgets and the people working in it involved is so different. But there are plans to get it a lot better by regulation with cost control -- I don't call it cost cap, it's cost control -- and a better way to distribute the prize money. So that should close it up and close it up naturally."
Other than Williams driver Lance Stroll's maiden podium at the chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix, only Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have finished in the top three this season. For most of the campaign, those three teams have been a sizeable distance ahead of the tight midfield battle further back both in qualifying and race trim.
Steiner does not think it is unrealistic for F1 to aim for a scenario where performance levels are close enough that a large group of teams have a chance at a podium at every race.
"Every team should have the chance to go on the podium, that would make it interesting. I believe that. That's what F1 should be aiming for in the next two or three years. Not every team in one season, of course, because then you're close to spec racing, but over a couple of seasons every team should have a realistic chance of scoring podiums with the right work and development. At the moment, the best job most teams do is for eighth, ninth, tenth, and that's out of way [of people's attention].
"If you take the [gap of the] big three out, there it is -- there's nothing else to do. You have Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull. If you take them away, every team would have been on the podium [in 2017] because that fight behind the big three is so unpredictable and changes every race. But usually it's fighting for scraps.
"If you take those teams away, you only need to finish sixth to be on the podium. We have finished sixth, Force India have finished sixth, Williams, Toro Rosso, McLaren, the only ones which didn't are Sauber. So it isn't so far off!"
F1 experienced a change in ownership at the start of 2017, with Liberty Media taking over and installing new bosses in place of Bernie Ecclestone. Steiner thinks the change has been a big help in moving the sport closer to a solution on costs.
"Absolutely. I think they are very much on that side of it, but finding a way to do it is difficult. But they are trying to find an agreeable solution for everyone and that's how it should be.
"You can't say to Ferrari and Mercedes 'you need to go slower now', you could but I don't think they would be happy. It would take a few years but it's achievable, it would just need teams to adjust budget, headcount, and we would get there, but it's very achievable.''