Formula 1

How the pinnacle of motorsport will change next year


F1 2021 rules: How the pinnacle of motorsport will change next year&nbsp

Key Highlights

  • 2021 F1 cars include a rotating LED display panel on the wheel rims
  • Formula 1 will bring in a $175 million cost cap per team per year
  • The gearbox design is now more restricted with pre-decided configurations

The 2020 Formula 1 season was quite a wild ride, especially with it being nearly cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. But then F1 picked up from where it could, buckled up, and raced on — culminating with Lewis Hamilton being crowned the 2020 F1 champion and Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team winning its seventh consecutive FIA Formula One Constructors’ World Championship. Suffice it to say the 2020 F1 season was quite a ride, but now it is time to brace for a brand-new year and the F1 season that will come along with it. Now, there is still some time to go before the 2021 F1 season is underway, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it yet. So, in this article, we discuss the changes we will get to see in the 2021 Formula One season. Here goes.

New design 

Team cars in the 2021 season of Formula 1 championship will feature simplified front wings, bigger wings at the rear, more underbody aerodynamics, wheel wake control devices, comparatively simplified suspension set up, and low-profile 18-inch tyres. Other interesting proposals for 2021 F1 cars include a rotating LED display panel on the wheel rims along with a bodywork display panel to provide information to spectators.

Reduced loss of downforce

F1 cars have long suffered an intriguing challenge in reference to downforce: They suffered quite a bit of loss of downforce when running behind another car. A 2019 F1 car could lose over 40 per cent downforce while running in dirty air behind another car. However, the design changes in the 2021 car reduce this loss to about 5 per cent to 10 per cent. How? Well, now the airflow coming off the new cars is not only cleaner but also directed higher, thus ensuring it has a reduced impact on drivers and cars behind them. And what purpose does that serve? It gives following drivers a better chance to overtake.

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Spending restrictions

Come 2021, Formula 1 will bring in a $175 million cost cap per team, per year. It will apply to anything encompassing on-track performance but will exclude marketing costs as well as salaries of drivers and the top three personnel in the team. This move seeks to eliminate the growing spending gap between F1’s big teams and the ones with fewer resources.

Reduced wind tunnel testing

 Another measure to rein in aero development costs being introduced in the 2021 season is a reduction in the number of wind tunnel runs teams can do each week.

Restricted car upgrades

 The 2021 F1 season will also see the introduction of limits to car upgrades over race weekends along with the number of in-season aero upgrades. In addition to that, specific standardised parts will also be added to the mix, i.e. parts that must have a prescribed design, and more restrictions on how many times some parts, such as brake pads, can be replaced. Furthermore, gearbox design is now more restricted, with pre-decided configurations to help save R&D costs. And the tyre blankets will stay for now, albeit with some restrictions.

Race weekend structure

 In addition to the maximum number of races in a season being now 25, the race weekend structure will be changed as well. This starts with the pre-race press conference, which will now be held on Friday, right ahead of the first and second practice sessions, instead of Thursday. Oh, and cars will now need to be in parc fermé conditions (i.e. race trim) from the start of FP3. Another change is that FP3 will now serve as the point at which the teams must return cars to the ‘reference specification’ presented for scrutineering before FP1. What this means is any bodywork they may have tried out practice must be removed.

And in order to give younger drivers a better chance, all teams are now required to run at least two practice sessions during the year with drivers who have completed two Grands Prix or fewer.


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