Since Liberty Media took over Formula 1 almost two years ago, we’ve been waiting for the inevitable shakeup of the motorsport. It looks like we won’t have to wait much longer, as the American company has just revealed their plans for the 2021 season, and of course, the cars.
Let’s chat about the car first. Well, it’s simply sublime. These renders, which seem to be the final designs or thereabouts, show off a simpler, streamlined design. And this is no coincidence. The aero package has been toned down massively on the top of the car, with more reliance on what’s going on beneath the car and its ground effect.
This allows the air behind the car to be far less dirty, allowing for more slipstreaming and overtakes, and therefore a more interesting race to watch. According to research into Formula 1 downforce, cars in a slipstream can have up to 40% less downforce. With these changes, this will fall to only a 10% drop.
But with the increased ground effect, the cars will still be plenty fast with an expected three second per lap increase. But the new rulings are where we find the majority of changes, beginning with a limit of $175 million on budget per team per season. This means that it’s less about how much a team spends overall, but what they focus their budget on, while also giving smaller teams the chance to compete realistically. Of course, things like marketing and drivers’ salaries won’t be included in this.
In another move to limit aerodynamic enhancements, the time teams can spend in wind tunnels will be capped dramatically. Plus, upgrades to the car over a season will be limited.
Now away from the cars and to the calendar. Friday practice will now take on conferences, too, instead of being on a Thursday, and the cars will be under parc fermé conditions before the beginning of FP3 compared to qualifying where it currently stands. And during these practice sessions, each team will have to introduce a driver with less than two races in their history in at least two of the practice sessions during the season.
This is all looking to be a positive change to the sport, which has needed a rearrange badly in the last few years. If you weren’t overly bothered about this year’s season – I know I wasn’t – you might be feeling better about the future of one of the greatest sports on wheels. We’re very excited at GTN, and we expect you to be, too.