F1's 2021 rules finally approved
Formula 1's technical, sporting and financial regulations for the championships’ 2021 overhaul will go ahead as planned in 2021 following approval from the teams morning in Austin, with formal confirmation being made public on Thursday in a bid to improve the on-track spectacle and create closer, more competitive racing.
However, after being approved unanimously by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council on Thursday, the new rules are now ready to be published.
FIA president Jean Todt joined F1 CEO Chase Carey, F1 motorsport managing director Ross Brawn and FIA head of single-seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis at a special press conference on the publication of the new rules at Austin on Thursday morning local time.
"Today, we are really delighted to publish the sets of regulations which have been adopted unanimously by the World Motor Sport Council, and it defines the future of Formula 1 from 2021 onwards," said Todt.
"For the first time, the technical, sporting and financial aspects are addressed all at once, and the objective is to offer a more sustainable, safe and exciting sport."
The new technical regulations have been researched extensively by the FIA and F1 in a bid to create cars that are easier to follow, and make them look more 'futuristic'.
The changes include a significant overhaul of the existing technical regulations, with changes being made to the aerodynamic designs of the cars to allow them to follow each other closer on-track. Criticism had been made by teams over the amount of aerodynamic freedom allowed under the planned regulations, but unanimously approval was received in their vote.
2021 will also see a cost cap come into force, restricting teams to spend $175 million per year in certain areas in a bid to level the playing field and make the sport more competitive, cutting the gap between the front of the pack and the rear.
The changes to Formula 1’s regulations announced on Thursday are amongst the biggest the sport has ever seen. Come 2021, many of those changes will be immediately obvious – sexier cars, closer racing and a more compact race weekend among them. But what are the real motivations behind them? And what will be the hidden benefits – for teams, drivers and fans alike? Here’s how the revolution came about…
The 2021 rules are a watershed for Formula 1 - but they are still a work in progress, as they should be. F1 and the FIA firmly believe this is the start of a journey, not the end.
There will be discussions between F1, the FIA and the teams over the coming months about the details of the regulations, and there will be refinement between now and 2021 to ensure these rules deliver the best results for fans.
10 Ways the new rules will help
1. Sexier cars
2. Closer racing
One of the 2021 regulations’ chief objectives was to allow closer racing. And with an emphasis on simpler, less disruptive wings, an increased use of ground effect to create downforce, and a resultant wake of air that’s cleaner and lifted higher into the air, early signs are that they’ve done just that. F1’s Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds has heralded the results coming out of the wind tunnel thus far as “exceptional… actually beyond what I thought we could achieve when we started the project.”
3. More chances for different teams to score podiums
The make-up of the 2021 rules – in both the design philosophy of the new cars, and the cost cap being put in place – should combine to give each and every team on the grid a far better chance of being able to take podiums across a season than they have currently.
And although DRS is set to continue on the cars in 2021, the new regulations should help restore that ‘go-karting’ mentality in the drivers, allowing them to race hard to close up to their rivals, before then taking pride in pulling off more spectacular, on-the-limit moves to claim positions – while the number of overtakes per race should increase as well. All that means that driver skill, more than technology, will come right to the forefront of Formula 1 racing.
5. Tighter aero testing rules to close up the pack
With teams’ time in the wind tunnel set to be reduced even further for 2021, it will become harder for one team to simply out-develop the competition and streak ahead. That should mean the pack gets tightened up even further, while making time on the track, particularly in FP1 and 2, all the more important.
6. Parc ferme changes to mix up the grid
If a team brings a test item to a weekend, they’ll either have to commit to running that item all weekend, or else run it in one or both Free Practice 1 and 2 sessions before taking it off the car and saving it for the next event – another measure to slow down the rate of in-season development
7. A cost cap to check over-spending
2021 will mark the first Formula 1 season where financial restrictions are part of the rules – a massive change for the sport. The budget cap of $175m per team per year (based on a 21-race calendar) will be closely policed – and while that budget doesn’t include marketing costs, or the wages of figures like drivers, team principals and other senior personnel, it will still represent a significant new ceiling for some of the bigger teams on the grid to work to.
No longer will a small team go into an F1 season knowing at the start of the year that they will simply be out-spent by the top teams – a factor which should also make entering F1 a more attractive prospect for new squads – while an increased number of common parts on the cars will tighten the focus on areas that teams can develop their cars.
8. Shorter weekends to ease pressure on teams
The race weekend is set for a major revision, too, with the drivers’ press conference and pre-weekend media interviews now set to take place on a Friday (as opposed to Thursday), before Free Practices 1 and 2 are then run later in the day, with the schedule for FP3, qualifying and the race then unchanged.
9. A greater focus on young talent
From 2021, all of the teams on the grid will have to run a driver with two Grands Prix' or less experience in at least two free practice sessions per season – meaning we get a chance to see the new generation of talent shine on a Grand Prix weekend, whether that’s behind the wheel of a Racing Point, a Renault or a Red Bull.
10. Even more opportunities to hear from drivers and team bosses
F1 already brings plenty of interviews on Formula1.com from the drivers and team bosses across a weekend – but from 2021 onwards, teams signing up to the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations will have their media appearances enshrined in the rules, meaning that race fans will have even more opportunities to hear from their heroes over a weekend.
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