[EXPLAINED] What are the new F1 regulations for 2021?

1. Performance Related Cost Capped at $145 Million

F1 Cost Cap Explained - what does it cover?

The cost cap solely covers all expenditures that have a direct implication on the car's on-track performance. Driver fees, marketing costs, and the cost of the three highest paid team personnel are excluded from this budget cap. The cost of an engine supply deal is capped at € 15 million per season and not included in the budget cap.

Why is the cost capped?

Formula 1 limits the amount of money a team can spend on its race car to level the playing field for the midfield teams. The F1 cost cap ensures that racing becomes a fairer and more competitive sport whilst ensuring long-term financial benefits for the smaller F1 teams.

However, larger teams are likely to have already spent $175 million before the new limit was imposed. To reinstate the balance, the new concept car of 2021 has been pushed to 2022, and all teams will have to use their 2020 car for the 2021 season with performance improvements within a budget of $145 million.

2. ~10% Reduction in Downforce: Floorboards, Rear Brake-Duct Winglets, Diffuser Changed

Why were the Formula 1 downforce levels reduced in 2021?

With the new F1 regulations for 2021 in place, the 18" tyres for the new car were pushed to 2022 as well. The 13" Pirelli tyres currently being used have been unchanged for 3 years now, 2021 being the third season. However, in the meanwhile, teams have significantly improved their aerodynamic performance and engine power which the 13" Pirellis were not designed to withstand back then. The only remaining option was to cut the downforce on the existing car with regulatory changes.

The following 3 parts were modified to cut the downforce:

Floorboard - Tapering backwards & no floor slots:

The reduction in floorboard size reduces the pressure differential (the difference in pressure between the upper and lower sides of the floorboard), thus reducing downforce.

Rear Brake Duct Winglets - lower half made smaller:

Smaller winglets = reduced downforce fed to the wheels

Diffuser Strakes - height reduced by 50 mm:

Reducing the height of the strakes leads to reduced control of the air flow exiting the underbody of the car, snatching away the fine control over downforce.

3. Minimum weight of the car and power unit increased

Weight of the un-fuelled car: Minimum Weight of Power Unit:

2020: 746 kg 145 kg

2021: 752 kg 150 kg

This move discourages bigger teams with deeper pockets from using expensive weight-saving materials.

4. New Tyre Compounds from Pirelli

Some of the greatest impacts of the G-Force were felt in the 2020 season as Pirelli recorded the highest readings of cornering forces ever witnessed in Formula 1 history! They believe the sheer magnitude of these forces caused the multiple tyre failures we saw last season.

Pirelli believe that half of the stripped downforce using the above listed regulations will be recovered by the teams during their winter improvements. Pirelli have factored a 5% net reduction and have tested new compounds accordingly for the 2021 season.

5. Practice sessions are now only 60 mins

FP1 and FP2 will now be held for 60 minutes each with FP3 retaining its standard 60. This move is aimed at forcing the cars out for more on-track action before qualifying.

6. Green Materials are now allowed

Here's an interesting one - Formula 1 is keen on incorporating more eco-friendly materials into the construction of a race car. In accordance with that vision, FIA have approved the use of “flax, hemp, linen, cotton [and] bamboo”. Can't imagine how teams will leverage that in 2021, can you?

We can't wait for this season to kick off with these new regulations aimed at keeping teams on their toes! We would love to see a more competitive midfield this season and a little shuffling in the mix as well! Will the pecking order change this year? What do you think? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!


All pictures used in this post are the courtesy of Formula 1 and have been edited for explanatory purposes.


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