Formula 1

Newey: New F1 rules a shame and a missed opportunity

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While the Formula 1 world awaits the new regulations, earmarked for 2022, the sport’s legendary designer Adrian Newey continues to lament what rule-makers have concocted for the next era.

The new rules which were supposed to kick-in this year were delayed due to the global COVID-19 landscape, however, it appears certain that they will come into force next season.

While there is always optimism that a new era will have benefitted from hindsight, or at least allow history to tweak the template for the future. Incoming budget caps also suggest more standardisation of parts which, in the end, flies against the ethos of what F1 has always been about.

Namely, the best drivers, in the best teams, using cutting edge technology while reinventing the wheel (as they say) over and over again to win at all costs.

Speaking to Formule1 magazine this week, Newey continues to be uninspired with what he and his team have to work to, “I just think it’s such a shame and a missed opportunity: if you come up with completely new regulations, make sure it’s right but these rules just aren’t.”

Standardisation of parts and increased restrictions limit creativity from the design and engineering teams working within the confirms of the rules, inevitably all with similar solutions which results in the current scenario whereby all cars look the same if their liveries are removed.

Over the years, F1 can pride itself in being the testbed for many of the gizmos that today are part and parcel of car production. In terms of pushing the envelope, the sport enjoyed great eras of innovation. Wings in the late sixties; the ground-effects phenomenon of the seventies; turbos of the nineties.

And of course, the sport at the highest level also pioneered disc brakes, active suspension, sequential gearbox, gear-paddles, carbon-fibre, KERS…. the list is long.

Inevitable, Newey was asked if the increasingly claustrophobic rulebook still inspires and motivates him to drive into work every day, the 62-year-old replied, “Yes, although I have to admit that I still have to find ‘something’ to make these rules exciting for myself.”

It’s not the first time that the Red Bull chief designer has spoken out against the 2021 (now 2022) F1 rules that are expected to level the lopsided playing field, that F1 has increasingly become.

Not many teams have been capable of winning in the past decade or more., the new rules are expected to change that. Those expectations are not only from F1 fans but teams and their bosses.

Last year around this time, in an interview with iNews, Newey was already airing his grievances, “In many ways, I look forward to regulation change because it’s an opportunity to try to understand new things.

“What I don’t like is the general trend in successive regulations to become ever more restrictive. What was very nice about the last major change back in 2009 was that it wasn’t more restrictive.

“But these new ones for 2021 are very restrictive and prescriptive. And I think that is an awful shame. It makes it a little bit GP1 which is not what I think Formula One should be.”

At the time, Newey hinted that there was little choice for the teams and little input from designers, “It’s been pushed through regardless of what people think, so whether it’s good for the sport or not, only time will tell.”

Meanwhile, Red Bull are gearing up for their 2021 campaign with Max Verstappen and newcomer Sergio Perez to spearhead their charge, hoping Newey and his crew will find some magic for them.

Formula 1 World Championship-winning cars penned by Newey:

  • 1992 – Williams FW14B
  • 1993 – Williams FW15C
  • 1994 – Williams FW16
  • 1996 – Williams FW18
  • 1997 – Williams FW19
  • 1998 – McLaren MP4/13
  • 2010 – Red Bull RB6
  • 2011 – Red Bull RB7
  • 2012 – Red Bull RB8
  • 2013 – Red Bull RB9

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