How 2021 Rules Changes Will Shape the Future of F1

On the weekend of the US Grand Prix (COTA) in Austin, the chairman and CEO of Formula 1 Chase Carey and the president of FIA, Jean Todt, introduced the new F1 rules after the approval from the World Motor Sport Council.
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The new regulations are primarily focused at providing closer wheel-to-wheel racing to better entertain the fans of the sport in the years to come, while adding a budget cap for the teams aimed at narrowing the gap between the front of the grid and those at the back.

The new regulations will be a turning point for the entire development philosophy of Formula 1, but at the moment it’s clear that the form is not final yet, with many points appearing rather crude. Further details, key points and clarifications will still have to be discussed with the teams until their introduction in 2021.

F1 2021

Budget Regulations

For the first time in Formula 1, restrictions on expenses will be introduced, and the marginal cost of investments will be set at 175 million U.S. dollars per team each season, including all costs besides marketing, driver salaries, and the cost of super licenses.

I guess that kind of makes sense for closing the gap to the front teams since they won’t be able to spend as much on development, whilst still managing to rely on the driver’s talent to make the difference. To paint a broader picture, with a salary of 50 million dollars for example, Hamilton would have taken 28% of the Mercedes Petronas AMG team budget for the whole year.

The size of this restriction was the result of tireless work from Liberty Media and FIA, with numerous consultations with each of the teams in order to establish a feasible figure, which would allow creating a balance between the necessary and the excessive. To control this new aspect a special commission will be created, which will begin its work as soon as 2020 in order to help teams have a smooth transition come 2021.

F1 2021

New chassis for more raceable cars

The aerodynamic regulations proposed for 2021 were designed to remedy the issues caused by the 2017 and 2019 rule changes, which saw the complicated aerodynamic designs reduce downforce for the following car by an around 50%. With this new chassis, the cars will only lose about 5-10% of downforce, good for racing.

The key architecture of modern cars will remain valid, but the 2021 versions will have a fundamentally new design philosophy: a wider body, a simplified front wing, wheel deflectors, an enlarged rear wing, new diffuser, a simplified suspension, and for the first time in F1 history, low profile tires with 18 inch wheels.

The biggest change though is taking place underneath the car, with a series of Venturi tunnels feeding a deep twin diffuser that will produce the majority of the car’s downforce. The concept is not entirely new to F1, as it’s a more advanced approach to what Lotus did in the late 1970s.

The belief is that the combination of ground effect, simpler aerodynamics and front wheel deflectors will help cars follow each other much closer, therefore provide us, the spectators, with more thrilling battles and closer championships.

There is also information that the wheels and the body will be equipped with special LED panels with information for the audience, though that was not confirmed yet.

All these changes will not only improve the overall quality of races but also add to the external aesthetics of the car, a topic that was thoroughly discussed as F1 bosses aim to bring the cars back to ‘posters on the wall’ status.

McLaren F1 2021

Component restrictions and standardized parts

In addition, significant changes will be made to the technical and sporting aspects as well. For example, restrictions will be introduced for the development of the cars during race weekends, having them start the Grand Prix with the configuration they had at the end of each final free practice session.

To that extent, all teams will also have to start using standardized parts such as fuel pumps and underbodies, and have to deal with new restrictions on the number of brake pads they can use every race weekend. A more comprehensive list of such details is yet to be finalized.

Powertrains will remain the same though, at the request of all PU manufacturers, but exhaust systems have been added to the list of restricted components, thus each car being able to use no more than six exhaust systems per season.

F1 2021
As a result, the 2021 cars will have slightly less downforce and be a significant 55 pounds heavier overall. Controversially, perhaps, for the ‘king’ series of motorsport, this could amount to a loss of around three seconds a lap from the current lap times, putting the overall performance back to that of 2016.

These changes were made due to the fact that F1 kind of lost its drama in the last couple of years, having only 3 teams steppingat the top of the podium in the turbo-hybrid era. To this degree, losing a bit of performance to create a more entertaining show and a tighter championship battle with more contenders seems like a good deal.


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