What's new for F1 2021? Analysing the key changes from rules reveal
Detailing the changes for F1 2021 and beyond - with new, racier cars, a cost cap to close up the field, shortened race weekends and more
By James Galloway and Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 11/11/19 3:14am
New cars with different aerodynamics
The centrepieces of Thursday's presentation were the wind tunnel model and the computer images of the 2021 car that has emerged from two years of extensive research and development by the sport's officials.
The design still clearly resembles an F1 car, but the refined and sweeping bodywork undoubtedly give it an edgier look to the 2019 machines - with the added difference of the larger 18-inch tyres.
The way downforce is produced by the 2021 cars will also be fundamentally different, with the aim of allowing cars to follow each other more closely.
The entire shape of the cars is changing to encourage overtaking, with simplified front wings and bigger rear wings aimed at improving airflow and making it easier to maintain downforce running in the 'dirty air' from the car ahead. Bargeboards will also be a thing of the past.
"We hope these new aerodynamic regulations will make the difference between the fastest than slowest car smaller than now," said the FIA's Nikolas Tombazis.
Much of the downforce will now be generated from underneath the car, effectively returning the sport to ground-effect cars, with a long diffuser from the front all the way to the back.
"We expect there is going to a huge chunk of performance compared to the front car even after the development of the teams," predicted Tombazis.
Teams will not be allowed to develop into certain areas of the cars so not to compromise the wider 2021 philosophy, but Tombazis insists "numerous areas" will still be open for teams to develop.
The cars will be heavier and initially around 3-3.5s per lap slower - back to where they were in 2016, according to Ross Brawn.
A cost cap - and penalties for exceeding it
A decade after Max Mosley first attempted to introduce what would have been a draconian £40m budget limit into F1, the expected confirmation of a $175m cost cap for 2021 will be introduced with far less controversy with teams onside to control how much they are spending - and believe they need to spend.
The total figure will incorporate all 'performance areas' with exceptions including drivers' salaries, the three highest-paid people in the team, and marketing.
And in the words of Brawn, these regulations have "teeth" to bite anyone who contravenes them.
"Financial regulations are the big and dramatic change in Formula 1. The crucial thing now is they are part of the FIA regulations," said Brawn. "The sanctions for breaching financial regulations will be sporting penalties of some sort, depending on the severity of the breach.
"This has tenth - if you fraudulently breach the financial regulations you will be losing your championship. They have serious consequences."
A shorter race weekend - and new set-up dilemmas for teams
From 2021, there will be a maximum of 25 races per season - compared to the 22-race limit for 2020 - giving F1 the opportunity to add more events to the calendar. As it could increase the amount of travel for teams and drivers, the race weekends will be condensed into three days in a bid to help them deal with an expanded campaign.
Gone will be the Thursday press conferences, with drivers instead meeting the media before Friday's practice sessions. Saturday and Sunday's schedule will be unchanged from what we know today - a 'reverse-grid' format was considered but two teams voted against trialling it in 2020.
Another change for Grand Prix weekends is the addition of the "reference specification" for cars, meaning that following scrutineering - which will take place before first practice on Friday, rather than Thursday - teams will be unable to add bodywork and must return to their pre-P1 spec. Teams will therefore be permitted to run new parts, such as a new front wing, in Friday's practice - but they would be unable to race with it afterwards.
Brawn said this was a cost-cutting exercise, stating that teams had been "flying in parts last minute" for qualifying and the race after trialling their performance on a Friday.
Some standard parts, but cars won't be identical
There will be certain standardised, or "prescriptive", parts on the cars for all teams.
Leading up to the rules reveal, one fear from teams about this particular regulation was the lack of potential for different designs from their aerodynamic masterminds, and that the cars on the grid may largely look the same.
Tombazis, however, stressed that there have been initiatives in recent months to ensure there will be "certain areas of differentiation", citing the nose, front wings, engine intake, sidepod and the rear wing as examples. Essentially, F1 don't want teams designing their own parts which could have a negative effect on the racing.
"We have of course restricted some areas because there are some areas that are key to this wake performance," Tombazis explained. "And we don't want to throw away that massive advantage [for overtaking]."
'Very good' 2021 regulations will 'evolve'
Although the F1 2021 rules are comprehensive, F1 and the FIA say that this is the start of a journey, not the end.
Meetings will continue with teams leading into 2020 about the regulations, with F1 chairman Chase Carey describing it as an "ongoing process" which they will "continue to improve", while Brawn spoke of the opportunity for "refinements".
"I think one of the crucial things about the governance going forward is that we don't have the situation where we get blocked completely from any change in the future," said Brawn. "The governance has to have better balance of stability for the teams, but the ability to make developments when they're really essential."
He added: "It will evolve. I don't pretend it's perfect now, but it's very good. And I think we'll now evolve it as we meet the different challenges."