So far there’s been much discussion for the coming rule change in 2021, but actually not a lot has really been put into action when plans are frequently changed ideas dropped.
We’ve heard of budget capping, fair distribution of money, new cars, a tighter programme during the Grand Prix, an expansion of the races and so on, but really nothing has been ratified and agreed upon.
It appears that Ross Brawn, the technical boss of the sport, is set to put in place the final aims and conditions the sport will adhere to in 2021, and this has gone under the radar a little. Auto Sport und Motor of Germany publicised an interesting document having gained exclusive access to FIA and FOM’s 2021 targets, and TJ13 will outline these here below.
Let’s start with cost control. It is coming. Even if Ross Brawn doesn’t want to give any figures yet, from 2021 it will probably end up with a three-stage plan with 180, 165 and 135 million dollars. This does not include the drivers and the three most expensive employees of the teams.
Brawn admits: “We are close. Time is running out, but before we rush things, we better do things right. The principles stand. It would be unrealistic to expect that we already have a blueprint for all the details today.”
“Three weeks ago, the FIA and we presented the regulations for cost capping to the teams. Now we are discussing the details with the teams. Then the rules will be poured into a final version. In addition to the working group for the technical bosses and team managers, we have also set up one for the financial people.”
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Teams should continue to have a say
2020 will be a practice year but then it will be mandatory to report figures. But there will be no penalties yet.The financial experts want to see how exactly they can check the budget. By 2021, the cost cap will be binding on everyone.
It appears that he issue of prize money distribution has gone comparatively smoothly. It is strongly based on the Bahrain 2018 proposal – the same money for everyone. Ferrari gets 40 million more, the manufacturers 10 million as a bonus for their engine deliveries at a fixed price.
Brawn confirms: “The payout key is still similar to what we presented in Bahrain. Strangely enough, there was less discussion than on the budget cap. It’s also less complex. The original reluctance came from the teams wanting to see the whole picture before saying anything about money distribution. Now all the facts are on the table. That makes it easier to make decisions.”
The teams are also further involved in the decisions on the regulations. But the whole process should be considerably simplified and shortened and possible stalemates avoided. Unity is impossible in Formula 1. Liberty also wants to be able to get a reasonable majority decision for short-term decisions. We can see now the importance of manufacturer ‘B teams’.
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The new cars
The cars for 2021 are at a rather sophisticated stage of development. Never before has so much work been invested in a new regulation. Pat Symonds’ group of experts is already at the “India” stage. The “I” stands for the eighth evolution of the original concept.
The FIA is just beginning to write rules for it. A first draft should be ready by the middle of the year. But it can still be changed. Findings from the 2019 rule change will flow into the 2021 cars.
Despite criticism of the wider wings, Brawn is confident: “The 2019 rules help us in two ways. They show us how the engineers interpret these rules and what they make of them. And we learn how the cars behave on the track. At the moment there are divided opinions. Some teams say it doesn’t make any difference, others say it’s better. But there hasn’t been anybody who says it’s getting worse.”
“If we hadn’t done anything, it would definitely have been worse. After the race in Australia we should have enough data on how well the cars can follow each other. We can then make small adjustments for 2020 and react for 2021, depending on what is needed. 2019 wasn’t the big step, but a useful exercise. It will certainly not do any harm.”
Brawn’s 2021 goal is not just to make overtaking easier. “You should be able to race better with these cars. Overtaking should remain an art. For example, if we find that we’ve gone a step too far with the DRS, we’ll bring it back a bit.
“We want wheel-to-wheel battles, cars that can drive close behind each other in the corners, tyres that don’t collapse after half a lap if you follow too close to the car in front”.
No gimmicks for more action
Liberty and the FIA have in mind that the teams will not show up at the track until Wednesday or Thursday. The earliest time for driving is Friday afternoon. This shortens the travel days. But since this is not possible with the current effort, there must be restrictions on how many people and equipment can get to the race track.
Brawn says: “We will rebuild the race weekends and set up new rules for how the teams operate during a race weekend. All this will help give the teams a fairer chance and make the races more spectacular. Quality is important to us. We don’t want cheap gimmicks. So there won’t be any dramatic things like a reverse starting order.”
So what can you do to give the teams a day? “Maybe we define the number of hours they are allowed to work on site. If you remember, the races used to be like the test drives today. The teams worked around the clock, in two shifts. Then that was forbidden. Is that why the races got worse? No. We have to force the teams to work more efficiently. If there is less stress for the team, we can have more races.”
It won’t happen. And I don’t believe Liberty Media will be around F1 in 2021.
The new regime at Ferrari is a major factor in this. They seem reasonable but risk averse – so it boils down to the question which risk do they fear the most:
– blowing up F1 and that’s the end of it
– less money to spend, less succes on track
– backlash from F1 fans for being stubborn
The only unique issues for Ferrari are the veto and the extra money. The new engine specs, budget / salary caps and financial reporting all effect Ferrari, M-B and Red Bull equally, and I doubt any of them agree to it. In fact I can see M-B as the one that leaves as it moves it racing focus to Formula E.
With no changes to the PU regulations we can expect exactly the same show as we have now.