The new Formula 1 season brings several important changes in sporting and technical regulations and for the first time in F1 history there are financial regulations that restrict the budget of each team – MAXF1 provides an overview of the most important changes for 2021.
For 2021, Pirelli has prepared new compounds for its slick tyres (C1, C2, C3, C4 and C5) that also have a new, stronger and heavier construction to reduce overheating and to more easily withstand increasing aerodynamic loads on the current generation of F1 cars.
In the last two seasons used 2019 tyres were used, but downforce levels became so high that the FIA reacted and introduced measures that reduced the possibility of generating downforce for 2021, which you can read about in the next section on changes in technical regulations. Also, Pirelli responded by developing new, more durable tyres that drivers were able to try out for the first time last year.
Drivers will, as in 2020, have an identical tyre allocation for each F1 weekend – each driver will have two sets of the hardest compound, three sets of the medium compound and eight sets of the softest compound available.
Pirelli has already announced their selection of tyre compounds for all 2021 races.
Shortened free practice on Fridays and race duration
Instead of 90 minutes, the two free practice sessions on Fridays will last 60 minutes each while the third practice session will still last 60 minutes. The maximum duration of the race, including interruptions, was also reduced from four to three hours.
Aerodynamic testing restrictions (ATR)
For the first time in history, Formula 1 introduces a system that reduces the time for developing a car depending on the current position of the team in the championship, and the scale will be reset twice a year. The system is called ATR – Aerodynamic Testing Restrictions.
At the beginning of the year, the scale is formed on the basis of last year’s constructors’ ranking while on June 30 the scale will be reset based on the constructor order on that date.
The base for weekly wind tunnel use for 2021 is 40 runs per week (100%), but current world champions Mercedes are only allowed to use 36 tests while Williams is allowed to use 45 tests.
From 2022, the difference will be much more dramatic so the 2021 champions will be able to use only 70% of the base testing allowance (28 runs per week) while the last team in the championship will be able to use 46 runs per week.
|Position||2021 wind tunnel testing time||2022 – 2025 wind tunnel testing time|
|10 or lower / new team||112.5%||115%|
With a series of geometric restrictions, the FIA wanted to achieve a reduction in downforce of about 10% and one of the restrictions relates to the reduced dimensions of the floor in front of the rear wheels and the ban on the use of slots on the floor.
This will make it significantly more difficult for teams to isolate the airflow under the car from outside turbulence, especially from rotating rear wheels, but first indications are that teams have already regained about half or more of the lost downforce.
The diffuser still starts 175 mm in front of the rear wheel centre line, but the vertical strakes in the diffuser, which help the diffuser expansion and reduce the negative effect of turbulence caused by rear wheel rotation, are now 50 mm shorter.
Rear brake ducts winglets
Teams have been allowed to use the space around the brake cooling ducts for years to manipulate airflow and create additional downforce directly on the wheels, but from this season the lower half of those winglets must be 40mm narrower.
The upper half, above the center line of the rear wheels, may still be 120 mm wide, but the lower half from this season cannot be wider than 80 mm.
New rules to prevent copying car designs
After Racing Point copied the 2019 Mercedes F1 W11 with its RP20 last year, several teams protested against their design and asked the FIA to tighten rules around the possibility of copying rival cars.
While it is still allowed to ‘be influenced by the design or concept’ of rival teams, any information a team uses in designing their car must be ‘potentially available to all competitors’ and ‘collected only in races or tests’. This means that copying is allowed by observing and photographing, but not by exchanging data between teams.
Also, reverse engineering of rival cars as well as the use of 3D cameras to scan them is prohibited.
Minimum car weight
Due to the heavier Pirelli tyres for 2021, the minimum car weight increased from 746 to 752 kilograms with the driver at any point in the GP weekend.
The minimum weight of the power unit has increased from 145 to 150 kg to make teams spend less on exotic and lighter materials, and the novelty is the maximum number of exhaust systems per driver and from this year each driver is allowed to use only eight. If a driver is forced to use nine or more exhaust systems he will be penalized as well for overuse of any of the elements of the power unit.
Drivers are still allowed to use three engines, three turbochargers, three MGU-H, three MGU-K and two batteries and two control electronics per season.
For the first time in the history of Formula 1, a financial rulebook is in force that limits team budgets to $ 145 million for 2021, $ 140 million in 2022, and $ 135 million in 2023.
The budget cap does not include the salaries of drivers and the three highest paid employees, marketing activities, the costs of maternity leave and sick leave, as well as medical expenses for all team members.
In the period from 2021 to the end of 2024, teams are allowed to spend $ 45 million on capital expansions of their facilities that also do not fall within the aforementioned amounts of budget constraints.