It appears that there will be a delay to the new 2021 Formula 1 rules announcement, originally intended in June this year; now set for October, or that’s the hope.
The FIA and Liberty want to postpone the announcement of the technical regulations for 2021 from June to October claiming that a good rule set needs time, but Auto Motor und Sport reported yesterday that a small team is bizarrely trying to veto the delay.
A brief insight behind the scenes: By June 30th, the FIA can approve the technical regulations for 2021 without the teams’ consent, after that, all decisions must be unanimously approved by the teams. Something the rule makers are very keen to try and avoid when there’s a risk of gridlock and no agreements as teams will, of course, fail to agree on anything.
By planning to put into words the plans for 2021 around that time, the new technical rules can still be approved by the FIA World Council in good time.
So now the commission, which has been working on the Formula 1 car of the future since March 2017, is asking the teams for an announcement postponement until October. The delay and the rules announcement is headed on the Liberty side by Pat Symonds, from the FIA camp by Nikolas Tombazis.
By asking the teams to agree to this delay, then any changes made to the rule set will no longer need the unanimous agreement by the teams.
“The basic concept is in place and we are really happy with it. The values for the following car are better than we expected,” explains Pat Symonds.
The new concept for the 2021 F1 car, which the creators expect to deliver more action in the race, is already in its tenth development loop. TJ13 revealed some time ago the 9th generation of the new rules set, codenamed “India”, the new cars are to use ground effect downforce – Read more on that here.
“Logically, they [the teams] have only one goal in mind: to make their own car as fast as possible.” says Symonds.
“They are not interested in how the car behind it is doing. That’s why we try to imagine how these engineers could trick our draft rules. And we still want to close these loopholes,”
The reference of which Symonds is referring to is the continued issue of cars not able to follow one another too closely in the aerodynamic disturbance caused by the wings and body of an F1 car.
Symonds also wishes to attempt to further simplify the wording of the new rules, eliminating ‘interpretation’ – “Article 3, which deals with the fairing and the wings, is a nightmare.” admits Symonds
“We want simple and logical legal texts in the future. But to formulate them clearly and watertight fashion is a really complicated task.”
Any postponement until October requires full agreement by all teams but it appears that during the preliminary talks, only Racing Point was opposed to the idea.
Such a strange move does indicate a very worrying possibility that since the team went into administration last year, Mercedes and their team boss Toto Wolff, have bought themselves a second team. A ‘B’ team, with their vote and influence over these strategic decisions.
Racing Point, formerly Force India, dramatically went into administration mid-season last year, and one of the main causes for instigating this was Mercedes and team boss Toto Wolff (READ MORE), a primary creditor as Force India’s engine supplier.
At the time, Wolff claimed that “We are not buying Force India and we would rather not have the concept of a B team.”, but yet was dodging questions from Renault and McLaren as to what Mercedes intentions were during the purchasing of the team after administration. Both Renault and McLaren were publically concerned that Mercedes was actually trying to create a B team from the ashes of Force India.
“We as Mercedes are interested spectators of the process,” Wolff told reporters at the time.
“We would like to understand what the funding strategy going forward from a potential new buyer is, how it could affect the collaboration” which meant, whatever now happens between Mercedes and the new team owners of Force India.
The reason? Mercedes are seeing a real and present danger right now where votes will count, and count more than ever since the American ownership of F1 by Liberty Media. The new regime intends to level out the influence of the traditional big teams, so the smaller teams say will count for more.
Ferrari has Haas and now Alfa Romeo, two very compliant satellite teams, then we have Red Bull and Toro Rosso along with manufacturer Honda. Both Williams and McLaren are fiercely independent, the former running Mercedes engines, so this leaves just Racing Point as a Mercedes customer, and now that former owner Vijay Mallya out of the picture, a rather more influenceable Lawrence Stroll is at the reins of the team.
Bear in mind, Stroll is unlikely to say no to his world champion engine supplier, if it meant that they grant his team more opportunities for his son to shine. There is proof that a simple switch of engine mode of a manufacturers power unit at the pit wall can dramatically improve a car’s finishing position in a race.
Back in 2017, ex Lotus boss Matthew Carter revealed how Romain Grosjean benefitted from such a tactic when Mercedes engineers ‘granted’ an unknown engine mode which enabled the Frenchman to keep up with the leaders, denying Ferrari points and giving Grosjean a podium.
I strongly recommend you see this reveal in the youtube player below:
Going back to the situation of the 2021 rules, one would normally expect that a small team like Racing Point would push for the latest date possible for new rules to be announced as this would be advantageous to a small, independent team.
As AMuS said yesterday, if the big racing teams can’t buy something, it’s time. The wind tunnel time and CFD capacity is the same for all no matter how big or small the team is.
Money won’t give an advantage in this instance. On the other hand, Mercedes could gain an advantage by having more time to develop, flexing their huge budget muscles in the process, should the announcement stay on course for the earlier date.
And yet we see Racing Point try and block this date extension. Proof if ever needed that the glorious underdogs of Force India, the independent pioneers, are well and truly dead.
And Mercedes and Wolff appear to have their second ‘B’ team.