Discussions about Formula 1’s 2021 rules package have centred around bold plans for regulations designed to make grand prix racing closer, more exciting and more popular with fans.
While talks with teams to finalise F1’s future direction have become very advanced, senior figures have kept many of the details locked away until now.
But as those talks progress in a bid to reach approval of the new rules by September 15, for ratification by the FIA on October 31, the first details about exactly what will change for 2021 have emerged. Here is a summary of what is being planned.
As revealed earlier on Wednesday, the car concept itself will be completely overhauled, with a new ground effect design being introduced that it is hoped will allow cars to follow each other more closely.
The series of Venturi tunnels under the car that feed a large twin diffuser will help produce much more of the car’s downforce, and will help make cars less sensitive to turbulence than the current generation.
F1 still has some issues to solve, because an initial design of a simpler, wider front wing has not won everyone over.
The FIA’s head of single-seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis said: “The front wing, we are still not completely pleased about. Both from an aerodynamic point of view and from an aesthetic point of view.
“So we are trying to make it better in both aspects. There are good reasons why the wing is very wide, aerodynamically, but we agree it is not the best visually.”
F1 is looking to ensure that tyre characteristics do not hinder racing either, in the way that drivers are currently held back in battles because their tyres overheat when they follow other cars closely.
“We are into very deep consultation with Pirelli about how to make the tyres really step up and be at the position that they enable people to race,” added Tombazis.
“[That means] they don’t degrade, they don’t force people to manage the tyres so much, and they have a broader working range so as to not be as sensitive as they currently are.
“This is something we are working very closely with Pirelli and we have understood a lot of things that will make a significant different in that aspect.”
F1 will also ban tyre blankets for 2021, when it switches to 18-inch wheels.
Other rule changes
There will be a host of changes to the technical rules too, both to bring down costs and help level the playing field. These include:
– A simplified fuel system
– Simplified radiators
– Frozen specification of gearboxes for five years
– Hydraulic suspension banned
– Standard wheel rims
– Standard wheel hubs/nuts and pit equipment
– Standard brake systems
– Restrictions on the use of certain materials
– 40% reduction of windtunnel time for teams
What’s still up for discussion
FIA president Jean Todt revealed at the British Grand Prix that he has asked F1 to evaluate whether or not refuelling should return for 2021.
But that is not the only major rule change being evaluated, with even the format of a race weekend being looked at to see whether changes can be made. Other major topics up for discussion include:
– Reduction in the use of driver aids and electronics
– Reduction in the use of car-to-pit telemetry
– Introduction of more standard parts
– Simplification of the lower part of the chassis
– Reduction in the number of personnel at race weekends
– Reduction in the weight of an F1 car
Fine-tuning will continue
F1 is constantly evolving its 2021 concept as its research continues, and F1 managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn stressed that even once the rules are finalised in October it will not mark the end of F1’s work.
“The group we have at FOM will not stop work when the rules are issued,” he said. “That group is going to carry on working.
“As we see the team’s solutions evolve, we will analyse those solutions and understand if they are starting to negate the objectives and steer it back again.
“This is not a one-stop shop: we will monitor and develop and tune the solutions to make sure we maintain these objectives.”