2021 Formula 1 Regulations Revealed
The long-awaited 2021 Formula 1 regulations are finally here, and at first glance they seem to have been worth all the delays. A hard budget cap, fairer finances, better-looking cars that can more easily overtake, multiple cost-limiting measures, and revised weekend schedules are all on the cards. Below, we’ll cover all the highlights.
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Formula 1 teams will be limited to a spending cap of $175 million each. This excludes marketing costs, driver salaries, and the salaries of the top three team members.
This is the first time F1 establishes spending restrictions, which aim to introduce more parity between teams like Haas, which is spending about $120 million on F1 in 2019, and teams like Ferrari, which is spending in excess of $400 million.
This should also make the sport more sustainable as low-budget teams aren’t discouraged into finding success elsewhere, and outside entities may be more encouraged to join the sport if they believe they have a better shot at winning trophies.
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The 2021 Formula 1 cars will mark a significant evolution in aerodynamic design. The primary goal of the new technical regulations is to improve the performance of cars following other cars in their wake. F1 estimates that the current 2019 cars lose 21 percent of their downforce performance when within seven car lengths, and 45 percent of their downforce when within a single car length. By cleaning up the airflow that comes off the new 2021 concept car and directing it higher, it is estimated to lose only 2 and 14 percent downforce when following another car at those respective distances.
The new cars will feature enlarged rear wings, simplified front wings, increased underbody aerodynamics, devices to control the wake coming off the wheels, simplified suspension, and low-profile tires with 18-inch rims. The cars are also expected to be better-looking — “The kind of car kids will want posters of on their bedroom walls,” F1 editor-in-chief Jonny Reynolds wrote.
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The 2021 F1 rules also seek to curb research and development costs. One of the ways it will do this is by limiting how many car upgrades a team can bring over a weekend and throughout the season. Another is by introducing more standardized car parts, including wheel fuel pumps, and restricting the designs of other parts, such as the gearbox and new wheel covers.
F1 will also limit the number of wind tunnel runs each team can do each week as it seeks to push them to Computational Fluid Dynamics simulations instead.
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Under the current regulations, Formula 1 weekends last four days, from Thursday to Sunday. From 2021, the maximum number of races permitted in a season will be raised to 25, so to help reduce the load on team personnel, the duration of the F1 weekend will be compressed to three days, running from Friday to Sunday.
This is a decision that is already receiving negative feedback online, as lowering the amount of days at the track won’t reduce team workloads or make their jobs any easier, and other changes in the regulations — some aiming to increase environmental sustainability and others seeking to reduce costs — seem to be undermined by adding races to the calendar.
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Ultimately, the 2021 Formula 1 regulations seem largely positive, though the new cars will also be significantly heavier as a result of improved safety designs. Combined with reduced aerodynamic potential, expect them to be as much as 3-4 seconds slower than in 2019. But if the new car designs truly improve following performance as much as claimed, the racing should be significantly more entertaining.
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