For more than two years, the FIA and the Formula 1 governing body have been working on new regulations for the sport, to be used starting from the 2021 season.
Presented at the Circuit of the Americas before the 2019 United States Grand Prix, The new regulations aim to create better looking cars, closer racing on track, fairer finances and a better experience for the fans. And boy, do they deliver on the looks.
The 2021 F1 cars will be based on a new design philosophy and sport some pretty radical changes – sweeping bodywork, simplified front wings and suspension, bigger rear wings, increased underbody aerodynamics, wheel wake control devices, and low-profile tyres with 18-inch wheels.
Although visual appeal is one of the big considerations here, Formula 1 says that the cars are carefully designed to promote closer racing on track. In the current season, trailing in the “dirty” air of the car in front means a downforce reduction of up to 50%; The new design aims to drop the downforce lost to about 10%.
For the first time ever, Formula 1 is also introducing a spending restriction for the development of the cars. Each team is allowed a maximum of USD175 million per year to cover all on-track performance-related expenses.
The cost cap will exclude marketing costs, salaries of the drivers, and of the top-three personnel of the team. It will be interesting to see how Formula 1 enforces the new spending restriction, knowing that teams will try to find loopholes in the written rules to squeeze out every ounce of performance possible.
Over the season, the number of performance and aerodynamic upgrades on the cars will also be restricted. Certain parts such as fuel pumps will also be standardised, or have a prescribed design for the teams to adhere by.
The same 1.6-litre turbocharged hybrid engines will remain on the 2021 cars, but now with the exhaust system added to the list of components that are limited in number per season.
Race weekends will be condensed starting from 2021, with the press conference moved from Thursday to Friday before the free practice sessions. Teams are also required to run two practice sessions during the year using drivers who have completed two Grand Prix races or fewer, giving more opportunities for fresh talents to emerge!
The new regulations, which Formula 1 claims is one of the biggest set of rule changes in the sport’s history, intends to level the playing field across the grid. Hopefully these changes can result in more battles on track, and less runaway champions!