The Formula 1 rules for 2021 will be presented on Thursday, it’s expected that they will be vetoed immediately by the bigger teams in F1.
Halloween will be celebrated today in many parts of the western world, of course also in Austin/Texas, the location of this weekend’s F1 Grand Prix. However, many Formula 1 teams are expected to horrified, without the need for a zombie costume and a pumpkin lantern. What will be presented to them today on the eve of the USA Grand Prix is a set of rules for the 2021 season.
“I think Boris Johnson is closer to a deal than we are,” quips Christian Horner, Red Bull team boss.
A statement that makes clear in their sarcasm how hardened the fronts must be. Nobody denies that the top motorsport category needs change. But the road to consensus in a multi-interest economy like Formula 1 is extremely bumpy. It’s about making the sport more balanced and at the same time keeping the hungry giants like Ferrari or Mercedes happy at the same time.
Liberty Media and FIA have already had to move away from their original ideas. The Formula 1 leadership wanted simpler and cheaper engines, a budget cap, more standard parts, simpler aerodynamics. The sport was to become cheaper overall, attracting new teams and manufacturers. Above all, however, the aim was to make it easier to follow and overtake.
“Everyone must have a chance. We need a Leicester City in Formula 1” said Liberty Media’s technical boss for F1, Ross Brawn, back in 2017.
Kimi Räikkönen was the last Grand Prix winner for Lotus in Australia in 2013 who wasn’t driving a Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull. The chances of an outsider victory are basically zero, even under the most peculiar circumstances.
While Renault, McLaren, Alfa Romeo or Williams greeted the ideas, the big players were opposed to the proposed equalisation. “There should be more freedom, for example in aerodynamics, the DNA must remain,” criticised Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto:
“Formula 1 must be a performance-oriented sport, not just a spectacle.”
Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff complains about “actionism” in Formula 1. For the major manufacturers, Formula 1 is and remains a showcase of the art of car construction and engineering. Creativity in development is an integral component. This is why the complex turbo hybrid engine also has a future, even though Liberty Media and FIA had initially planned something else.
Already Liberty Media and the FIA have had to wave goodbye to the introduction of numerous standard parts to reduce costs. Such parts have been seen as a hindrance to engineering creativity, a view that has a resonance with some fans. But equally such policy allows the biggest spenders to make performance gains insurmountable to smaller teams.
What remains is a budget coverage of 175 million dollars per year for all racing teams from 2021 onwards. But even with their introduction there is not unanimous approval.
The small teams are afraid that the top racing teams will invest even more in development in 2020 than before in order to cement their leading position through this lead, probably for years to come.
Many team bosses would prefer to postpone the introduction of the new rules for another year anyway. “It would have been better to first set the 2021 cap and then spend more time developing these rules and 2022,” Horner explained in Mexico.
“If the rules are not yet fully developed, they just have to be worked out further with regard to the maximum cost limit”. concurs Wolff.
However, a reversal is hardly to be expected, the loss of face would be too great for Liberty Media and FIA. But the rules for 2021 will not be much more than a compromise. And compromises don’t really satisfy anyone.
In other news, F1 today revealed their take on what next years’ car will look like. Someone on Reddit F1 has kindly lighted the video image into a still picture for your perusal.