Formula 1 has been criticised for its lack of balance and fair racing in recent years, detracting from its origins and making it ever more tedious to spectate. Thankfully, it seems change is in the pipeline, with new budget caps, a dramatic aero-redesign and more all coming into effect from 2021.
Announced in Austin, Texas at the US Grand Prix, the FIA spilled the beans on the fresh new regulations for 2021, setting the tone for the future of Formula 1. Two years of analysis went into the decision making process, resulting in a set of regulations that aim to provide closer racing and more balanced competition.
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As has become a prominent issue in recent times, new rules call for significantly less complex aerodynamics, reducing dirty air and allowing for more competitive racing – turbulent air will now be directed above the car as opposed to behind. Claims are that the design will reduce downforce on following cars by just 5-10 per cent, down from the 50 per cent we see today, providing us with more overtaking action.
Perhaps the most dramatic of changes are the wheels, increasing in size from the traditional 13-inches to 18. Unlike the new aero regulations, this change is almost entirely down to marketing, with a setup closer to that of a road car designed to make it more relatable to fans. Fitted to these wheels will be wheel covers, complete with rotating LED displays to ‘provide visual information to spectators.’ Two display panels either side of the car will also be mandatory, included for the same purpose.
A six-cylinder, hybrid powertrain will remain at the heart of the racers for 2021, but the FIA made it clear that Formula 1 still aims to be a showcase for cutting edge technology. FIA President, Jean Todt, said: ‘A crucial element for the FIA moving forward will be the environmental considerations – Formula 1 already has the most efficient engines in the world, and we will continue to work on new technologies and fuels to push these boundaries further.’
Aside from the cars themselves, the FIA is also introducing an initial budget cap of $175m, with plans to lower this figure over time. This, it hopes, will make F1 more about how effectively a team spends its money, as opposed to how much. Todt said: ‘It is a major change in how the pinnacle of motor sports will be run, and for the first time, we have addressed the technical, sporting and financial aspects all at once.’