Formula 1 unveiled the intended guidelines for its next-generation race cars over the weekend, which will include a shift toward ground effects with the hopes it produces a more exciting product.
The primary complaint from fans and competitors is a fear that the new rules will make the cars appear more identical — antithetical to the longstanding principle of innovation and cars that look distinct from team to team.
Formula 1 managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn does not agree with that sentiment, making the counterargument that the current cars are not drastically dissimilar to each other and the new rules will not prevent teams from coming up with different designs.
And most important, Brawn says the discipline needs to put on a more entertaining race with the upcoming package.
“We have been very prescriptive to begin with because if we are not, we will not achieve the objectives,” Brawn said during a presentation for the new package. “There are complaints that all the cars are going to look the same and the other nonsense we have heard, so as an exercise, Pat (Symonds) took all the existing cars and took the livery off them and put them up (next to each other).
“You cannot tell the difference between the cars we have now once the colors are taken off them. You need to be an extreme geek to pick them out, and even within our office, we managed to pick three out. So, when you see the existing cars with the colors taken off, you wouldn’t know.”
The 2021 car has been designed to decrease a loss of 5-10 percent downforce from a leading car to a trailing car. That 2019 regulations are believed to have a 50 percent loss of downforce in the same scenario.
In 2021, Formula 1 will also move from a 13-inch tire to an 18-inch one, allow drivers to rely more on the rubber and conserve less.
“I think we were asking completely the wrong things of Pirelli over the last two years,” Symonds said. “The high degradation target is not the way to go.”
As stated above, a more common body style is a key principle of Brawn’s believing that Formula 1 needs to prevent the widespread disparity that saw pole winner Valtteri Bottas gap 20th-place qualifier Robert Kubica by three seconds.
“From the relative freedom teams have had so far, it’s going to be frustrating,” Brawn said. “But if they can take the approach that these regulations are the same for everyone and ‘We’re going to do a better job than anyone else, we just won’t be two seconds faster, we’ll be two-tenths faster’ – that’s what we want from Formula 1.”
The sanctioning body is also hoping to cut costs with the introduction of standardized wheel rims, brake systems, radiators and pit equipment. F1 is also looking to ban hydraulic suspension systems and freezing development of certain gearbox parameters.
“The great teams will still be the great teams,” Brawn added. “But in all the marginal gains that they do where they have 10 people on a project instead of two, which brings 5 percent more performance – they won’t do that anymore. They can’t, or if they do, they’ll be losing out in other areas where perhaps they could perhaps be making better gains.”
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