Formula 1’s cars in 2021 are likely to be slower than this season’s designs and visually different despite the same chassis having to be used, due to freedom for aerodynamic development.
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted F1 to push back the introduction of major new technical regulations until 2022 in order to cut costs, instead saying teams must use the current cars for this season and next. Racing Point technical director Andy Green says while the main area of focus as on the mechanical side, teams will have much more freedom aerodynamically to redesign their cars, and have to make certain changes due to a technical regulation for 2021 that is designed to slow the cars down.
“I think the bits that are frozen are more the mechanical side — all the Article 3 (of the technical regulations) aerodynamic parts of the car are free,” Green said. “We can still do a new car next year aerodynamically, so it doesn’t affect the aerodynamic team significantly; it’s more the mechanical part of the car which is frozen.
“We have changed a portion of the 2021 aero regulations with a view to reducing the downforce of the car in 2021. It was really a directive from the FIA that if we were going to carry these cars over for another year and postpone what was the 2021 regulations and move it to 2022, we can’t have a huge step in performance and we need to be limiting the development. So really the development of the car peaks this year and we don’t sail past it in 2021.
“So for that reason we’ve made a change to the aerodynamic technical regulations and we’ve taken a slice of real estate out of the floor in front of the rear tire. That change is a very significant change and it takes a really large hit aerodynamically, to a point where I would be surprised if anybody was able to develop their way out of it in the time we have available for 2021. So I fully expect 2021 cars to be slower than 2020 cars.”
With the mechanical parts frozen, Green says that has allowed Racing Point to reallocate staff to a new team focusing on homologation, in order to ensure they do not break regulations on what can and can’t be changed before the end of the 2021 season.
“It’s a technical regulation, so if we are found in breach of the homologated parts rule, it’s effectively exclusion from the event, so you have to take it very seriously. With that in mind, we have a dedicated team working on management of homologated parts from the first race in 2020 through to the end of 2021. It’s a brand-new topic for everybody — we’ve never done it before and we have to implement it rather quickly.
“So it’s a challenge. It affects everybody. We’re happy to do it, we’re just conscious that because it’s new, it could be very easy to fall foul of it. We’re trying to make sure all the protocols are in place that we don’t fall foul inadvertently. ‘Inadvertently’ meaning someone picks up a homologated part, rubs it with a file, changes it, puts it back on the car and then you’ve breached the homologated component rule. It can be as draconian as that. So we’re working on that right now.”