Formula 1’s work to improve racing with the 2021 regulations is 100 times more thorough than what it was able to do in 2019, according to the FIA’s Nikolas Tombazis.
The FIA and F1 have been working together to try and design new car regulations that will allow for closer racing, specifically focusing on aerodynamics – including the re-introduction of ground-effect – and the impact on a following car. While some changes introduced this season had the same aim, Tombazis, who is the FIA’s head of single-seater technical matters, insists they were not related and are barely worthy of mention compared to the work being done for in 18 months’ time.
“I think when the 2019 regulations were introduced I was at pains to stress they are not a first indication of 2021,” Tombazis said. “They were a much quicker step that was taken within approximately a month, and it was to stop the trend of worsening characteristics with the regulations that were introduced in 2017.
“There has been certain aspects which have worked and certain aspects that have not worked. Clearly some of the races have been ‘boring’ because of the big difference in performance between cars.
“We feel that it’s a completely different type of work that has been done for 2021. It’s far more comprehensive, we don’t have the limitation of getting teams to agree by a certain percentage to these rules, and therefore we can go much more extreme with those. For example in 2019, there had been a desire to simplify the barge boards on the cars. What had been submitted for vote by the teams back in April 2018 was also barge board simplification; that was not accepted, and I think it would have made a difference.
“We don’t have these constraints now, and the amount of work that has been put in is probably a factor of at least 100 more than the work that was put into 2019. So I don’t think there’s a comparison, really.”
Formula 1’s chief technical officer for its motorsports division Pat Symonds adds the impact of this year’s regulations has been positive, which is a source of encouragement for 2021.
“One of the teams has kindly given us all the geometry of their 2018 and 2019 cars, so we do completely understand the differences that were made in 2019,” Symonds said. “Particularly the 10-meter following case, it is better. Now, if nothing had been done, believe me the 2019 would have been worse than the 2018, but in fact it’s slightly better.
“As Nikolas said, the difference between that and our (2021) car is absolutely massive. There’s just no comparison.”
Work is still ongoing on the 2021 regulations with their publication expected in October, but the latest simulations show a car will lose between 5-10% of its downforce at two car lengths behind another car, compared to a 50% loss at present.