Several observers, including former F1 driver Jacques Villeneuve, believe that as this year, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull will still dominate the championship in 2021.
The FIA, pushed by majority owners of Formula 1 Liberty Media, has decided to impose budget restrictions on the teams for the 2021 season in order to allow the small teams to start on an equal footing with the championship giants. At least that’s the theory.
But, since the 2020 season will be subject to the current regulations (with no budgetary restrictions), teams will be free to develop the car planned for 2021 under the same conditions as this year.
So, from a technical point of view, the impact of budget cuts will only really take effect in 2022. It is interesting to note that the big teams, notably Ferrari, have adopted the new regulations almost without any hesitation. Many are seeing this as a move for future favoritism, but then tin foil can make a decent helmet.
With hindsight, it is understandable that with an uncapped budget next season, they will be able to do all the necessary tests to fully master the new regulation and thus be ready when the budget cuts are effective. By which time, it’s far too late for a Brawn GP or a McLaren F-Duct breakthrough to potentially happen with a lower budget ‘engineering’ team.
Red Bull understood this and asked the FIA to postpone the regulation until 2022 so that the budget cap would be in force at the same time as the preparation of the new formula for the cars. This request was refused by the High Court.
“Unfortunately, Jean Todt and Chase Carey could not support this idea. I think that’s a mistake, because by doing that, we had the opportunity to actually reset the counters to zero.” says Red Bull’s Christian Horner.
“If we had delayed the start of the rules by a year, all teams would have the same starting point,
“But now, the big teams can develop the 2021 car with all their financial power outside the budget cap. This is obviously an advantage over small teams.”
Haas F1 Team boss Guther Steiner also commented on this subject, with a similar point of view to Horner’s:
“The big teams just have more resources and more people to develop the 2021 car in accordance with the new regulations. They will be able to do so while developing their 2020 car,
“So by 2021, there will be no major differences in the hierarchical order of the teams. There will always be the big three, then the others.”