Formula 1 and the FIA have jointly revealed the new regulations to be introduced from 2021, having finally secured unanimous agreement from all parties after months of protracted delays and negotiations.

All ten existing teams, the FIA and Formula One Management reached an agreement, with the FIA World Motor Sport Council subsequently ratifying them.

Described by F1 CEO Chase Carey as “a watershed moment” for the sport, the new rules being introduced will attempt to address a range of challenges facing the sport including improving the quality of racing and implementing a formal cost containment strategy.

In a nutshell, the 2021 regulations will feature:

  • Cars that are better able to battle on the track;
  • A more balanced competition on the track;
  • A sport where success is determined more by how well a team spends its money not how much it spends – including, for the first time, a fully enforceable cost cap ($175M per season) in the FIA rules;
  • A sport that is a better business for those participating and more attractive to potential new entrants; and
  • A sport that continues to be the world’s premier motor racing competition and the perfect showcase of cutting-edge technology.

“Formula 1 is an incredible sport with a great history, heroes and fans all over the world,” explained Chase Carey, the Chairman and CEO of Formula 1.

“We deeply respect the DNA of Formula 1, which is a combination of great sporting competition, uniquely talented and courageous drivers, dedicated teams and cutting edge technology. The goal has always been to improve the competition and action on the track and at the same time make the sport a healthier and attractive business for all.

“The approval of the rules by the World Motorsport Council is a watershed moment and will help deliver more exciting wheel to wheel racing for all our fans.

The new rules have emerged from a detailed two year process of examining technical, sporting, and financial issues in order to develop a package of regulations. We made many changes during the process as we received input by the teams and other stakeholders and we firmly believe we achieved the goals we had set out to deliver.

“These regulations are an important and major step, however, this is an ongoing process and we will continue to improve these regulations and take further steps to enable our sport to grow and achieve its full potential.”

F1 2021 Concept Front & Rear

The 2021 regulations will introduce a $175M per year enforceable cost cap designed to introduce a more competitive field.

FIA President Jean Todt added: “After more than two years of intense research and development, of close collaboration with our partners at Formula 1, and with the support of the teams and drivers, circuit designers, the single tyre supplier, Pirelli and all F1 stakeholders, the FIA is proud to publish today the set of regulations that will define the future of Formula 1 from 2021 onwards.

“It is a major change in how the pinnacle of motor sports will be run, and for the first time, we have addressed the technical, sporting and financial aspects all at once. The 2021 regulations have been a truly
collaborative effort, and I believe this to be a great achievement.

“What the FIA publishes today is the best framework we could possibly have to benefit competitors and stakeholders, while ensuring an exciting future for our sport.”

Sporting Regulations Changes

An area featuring the least change is within the Sporting Regulations, which will largely be carried over from the current rules.

There are, however, some changes to note that have been introduced to support the sport’s continued growth with the major headlines being:

  • An increase in the maximum number of Grands Prix per season to 25;
  • A compression of the weekend format from four days to three (essentially moving the Thursday ‘media’ day into Friday);
  • A reduction in the number of permitted wind tunnel and CFD simulations per team.
F1 2021 Concept Oblique

A championship season could feature as many as 25 Grands Prix, placing major strain on team personnel and media.

Technical Regulations Changes

The new rules package will feature a number of significant changes in the sport’s Technical Regulations designed to improve the quality of racing. Chief among this are changes to simplify the designs of the cars and reduce wake turbulence.

The 2021 cars will have greater underbody downforce with the introduction of a longer ‘ground effect’ style diffuser. There will be tighter restrictions on the floor design and structure, both to reduce chassis damage over kerbs but also to stop teams from obtaining any unfair advantage with flexing floors.

Offsetting this will be a reduction in aerodynamic downforce through external bodywork changes; specifically bargeboards will be banned and the front wing designs will be simplified.

Visually, the 2021 cars are expected to feature significantly different noses and front wings, engine covers and intakes, sidepod intake profiles and shaping, brake ducts and rear wing designs.

Suspension designs have also been shaken up, with the new rules dictating simpler springs and dampers, while hydraulic systems and interters will be banned. The new cars will also feature 18-inch standard-supply wheel rims, while wheel hubs, nuts and retention systems will be prescribed. Brake discs will be made bigger with simplified geometry; a standard supply tender has been postponed to 2023.

The nose will be significantly lengthened to improve crash protection, while the minimum driver/car weight will be increased from 743 kilograms to 768 kilograms. The cockpit dimensions will be enlarged so as not to penalise taller drivers.

The power unit regulations will remain largely unchanged from today’s rules, however there will be some cost reduction benefits due to material restrictions, the introduction of a standard fuel pump and a loosening of exclusivity requirements for ES cell and turbocharger supply. The rules also stipulate that engine manufacturers must provide identical specification engines to factory and customer teams.

Gearbox R&D costs will be substantially reduced thanks to a configuration freeze in transmission design, with one complete redesign permitted per five-year cycle.

The FIA also pushed through an increased focus on the environmental relevance of fuels in the sport, mandating a minimum of 20% renewable content with the goal of increasing the renewable mix in the years to follow.

With more prescription on the design, purchase and supply of parts, the FIA will introduce five component categorisations for cost reasons:

  • Listed Team Components (LTC): components made by each team;
  • Standard Supply Components (SSC): single supplier via tender process;
  • Prescribed Design Components (PDC): prescribed design – free supply;
  • Transferable Components (TRC): components that may be transferred from one team to another; and
  • Open Source Components (OSC): components where designs are openly available to competitors.
F1 2021 Concept Side

The new cars will have simplified aerodynamics, ‘ground effect’ underbody designs and a number of enhanced safety features.

Cost Containment

The other major challenge facing Formula 1 has been the increased disparity in performance and competitiveness throughout the field.

The new rules have sought to promote a more competitive playing field and ensure the long-term financial stability and sustainability of the teams while ensuring that the sport doesn’t become a ‘spec’ series.

Headlining this is the long-overdue introduction of a cost cap. The 2021 cap is $175 million per team based on a 21-race schedule, however the limit will increase by $1M per race exceeding this and conversely reduce by $1M per race below this.

The cost cap has been set at a level that is designed to maintain the sport’s unique technology and engineering challenges while conversely facilitating a reduction in the ‘spending war’ that occurs in a development race. The teams are free to spend as they wish within that cost limit, however the figure excludes spending on:

  • Driver and ‘three highest paid’ personnel salaries;
  • Year-end performance bonuses;
  • Marketing costs;
  • Heritage Assets costs (for example, demonstration runs in older-spec cars);
  • FIA entry fee and driver super license costs

Financial and sporting penalties, up to and including disqualification from the Constructors’ Championship standings, will be applied in the event of procedural of financial breaches.

Images via FIA and Formula One Management

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.