FIA's plan for F1 2021 regulations to encourage different designs

The FIA hopes 'liberating' areas of Formula 1's 2021 technical rules that were set to be more prescriptive will support the "romantic" ideal of teams creating different-looking cars

FIA's plan for F1 2021 regulations to encourage different designs

Prior to the unveiling of F1's 2021 rules, some teams were concerned increased the governing body was restricting too many areas of development and critics suggested it risked edging towards spec cars and a formula disparagingly nicknamed "GP1".

When it presented the new technical rules for the first time, the FIA outlined seven key areas of the car it believes give room for designers to pursue different shapes.

Part of the process of defining the rules included testing expert and more casual observers on the shapes of current cars to see if they could be identified without liveries.

FIA head of single-seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis told Autosport he believes the push to make it easier to differentiate between the cars is a valid one.

"If you go to a non-expert fan, and take the liveries off the car, they would probably struggle to differentiate the cars and to say which is which," said Tombazis.

"Even today, the cars look less different than people would say.

"From a sort of romantic point of view, it would be nice if the cars looked different.

"Like in the good old days when you had some cars with six-wheels, another with ground effect, another with radiators in the front or whatever."

To emphasise its point, the FIA presented three different versions of cars that would be legal under the new rules, illustrating the scope for freedom with major elements like sidepod designs and the front and rear wings.

"When we showed these different options of the car, it was to illustrate you can still have some fairly distinct shapes between cars, that are not irrational shapes, that could still lead to a bit of differentiation," said Tombazis.

"Now what exactly will be the best solution, we don't know yet."

Even after the technical regulations were published, ex-F1 technical director and Autosport expert Gary Anderson was critical and described them as "painting by numbers".

He added that "it is very prescriptive and will definitely reduce the opportunity for individual flare".

Tombazis insists that the FIA has not only relaxed the prescription in the rules from when it was receiving the most criticism, but also allowed more freedom in areas with more aesthetic significance.

"The truth is that part of the reason cars have converged is a) regulation and b) the fact people know what they're doing more now much more than they did in the past," said Tombazis.

"They have simulations for almost every single thing. They can predict performance.

"They study each other's solutions, and they select the best ones.

"There's a natural convergence in every set of regulations and this will be no exception.

"That said, up until about a month and a half ago, we were very strongly criticised for the amount of prescription in the rules.

"And we did get quite a lot of input from teams on areas they felt could be made freer.

"We had our own views. We combined our views and the teams' input and we did some simulations, and we selected some areas they could be freer and more visually differentiating and more interesting from a development point of view.

"We liberated some of these areas a little bit more."

shares
comments
Mattia Binotto: Ferrari in-season development "exceeded expectation"
Previous article

Mattia Binotto: Ferrari in-season development "exceeded expectation"

Next article

Red Bull boss expects 'ironically' close 2020 Formula 1 battle

Red Bull boss expects 'ironically' close 2020 Formula 1 battle
Load comments
How Formula E factors could negate Red Bull's Jeddah practice gap to Mercedes Plus

How Formula E factors could negate Red Bull's Jeddah practice gap to Mercedes

Mercedes led the way in practice for Formula 1’s first race in Jeddah, where Red Bull was off the pace on both single-lap and long runs. But, if Max Verstappen can reverse the results on Saturday, factors familiar in motorsport’s main electric single-seater category could be decisive in another close battle with Lewis Hamilton

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer Plus

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer

Earning praise from rivals has been a welcome sign that Lando Norris is becoming established among Formula 1's elite. But the McLaren driver is confident that his team's upward curve can put him in the mix to contend for titles in the future, when he's hoping the compliments will be replaced by being deemed an equal adversary

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention Plus

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention

After a disastrous 2020 in which it slumped to sixth in the F1 constructors' standings, Ferrari has rebounded strongly and is on course to finish third - despite regulations that forced it to carryover much of its forgettable SF1000 machine. Yet while it can be pleased with its improvement, there are still steps it must make if 2022 is to yield a return to winning ways

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Plus

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Autosport's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer explains

Formula 1
Dec 1, 2021
Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated Plus

Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated

Humble yet blisteringly quick, Charles Leclerc is the driver Ferrari sees as its next
 world champion, and a rightful heir to the greats of Ferrari’s past – even though, by the team’s own admission, he’s not the finished article yet. Here's why it is confident that the 24-year-old can be the man to end a drought stretching back to 2008

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2021
The downside to F1's show and tell proposal Plus

The downside to F1's show and tell proposal

Technology lies at the heart of the F1 story and it fascinates fans, which is why the commercial rights holder plans to compel teams to show more of their ‘secrets’. STUART CODLING fears this will encourage techno-quackery…

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2021
How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits Plus

How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells STUART CODLING about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Plus

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at
 Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as BEN ANDERSON discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021