F1 2021 rules revealed: New cars and new racing headline major overhaul
Cars that can race closer and overtake, a cost cap to bring the field together, and a condensed race weekend among key 2021 changes
By James Galloway and Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 01/11/19 8:55am
F1 has revealed its new rules and car for 2021 aimed at making the sport more competitive and thrilling on track.
After two years of discussions and negotiations between officials and teams, F1 and the FIA revealed the revolutionary regulations at the US GP on Thursday after the package of technical, sporting and financial rules received 'unanimous' approval by the World Motor Sport Council earlier in the day.
The changes are headlined by what will be striking new-look cars, featuring dramatic bodywork, simplified front wings and larger wheels, with F1 confident the changes will improve overtaking and on-track battles.
"I think it's a turning point in Formula 1," declared F1 managing director Ross Brawn.
The headlines from the 2021 rule changes are:
- Revised aerodynamics aimed at improving overtaking and the ability of cars to race wheel-to-wheel
- A $175m cost cap for teams
- Reduction in grands prix weekends from four to three days
- A maximum of 25 races per season
- Limits on the number of car upgrades teams can introduce and more standard parts
- 18-inch wheels and lower-profile tyres
"It's to change the foundation of Formula 1 via the cost control, the governance, and bring the teams closer together and provide sustainable competition," said F1 managing director Ross Brawn.
"And when they get closer together we need cars that can race each other, because the cars we have now are terrible in that respect. We get constant reminders of the difficulties that drivers have of competing with another car when the performance difference is not here.
"So we set up with those objectives."
A $175m budget cap will be introduced on teams for the first time, although certain costs such a drivers' salaries and marketing will remain outside the limit. F1's leading teams currently spend in excess of $300m per season, although the budgets of many of the smaller teams are below $100m.
F1 has introduced the new package of rules with the following intentions:
- Cars that are better able to battle on the track
- A more balanced competition on the track
- A sport where success is determined more by how well a team spends its money not how much it spends - including, for the first time, a fully enforceable cost cap ($175M per season) in the FIA rules
- A sport that is a better business for those participating and more attractive to potential new entrants
- A sport that continues to be the world's premier motor racing competition and the perfect showcase of cutting-edge technology
F1 2021: Key changes explained
Cars that allow drivers to race closer
Although aesthetics were a major consideration, F1 and the FIA's main desire was to design cars that can race more closely. They say that when running behind another car, a 2019 car could lose more than 40 per cent downforce. With the 2021 design, focused on improving airflow with simplified front and rear wings, that drops to around 5-10 per cent. They say the cars could be around 3s-per-lap slower than now once first introduced, but speed was not their main priority. "The cars are very quick now - but they're not raceable," said Brawn.
For the first time ever, F1 will introduce spending restrictions. A cost cap will be set at $175m per team, per year, and applies to anything that covers on-track performance.
Fewer upgrades, more standard parts
Rules have been put in place to limit car upgrades over race weekends and over the season, while there will also be certain standardised parts for the teams. This, along with the cost cap, should mean it becomes harder for one team to simply out-develop the competition.
Race weekend changes
The race weekend structure will be condensed. The pre-race Drivers' Press Conference will be on a Friday, ahead of Practice One, instead of Thursday. Cars will be in parc ferme conditions from the start of Practice Three.
Number of maximum races increased
Because of the condensed Grand Prix weekend format above, there is scope to increase the amount of races to 25-a-season. But no more than that.