F1’s new rules explained: Lower cost cap, sliding scale aero and more

F1’s new rules explained: Lower cost cap, sliding scale aero and more

28th May 2020 3:56 pm

F1’s new rule changes target cutting costs and promoting sustainability as it attempts to bounce back from COVID-19 related disruptions.

  • Cost cap reduced from USD 175 million to USD 145 million for 2021

  • Teams to be allocated aero testing time depending on where they finish in the championship

  • Downforce to be further limited on 2021 F1 cars

Formula 1’s governing body, the FIA, has approved some key changes to the series’ regulations that will be applicable from next year onwards, including a reduced cost cap and the introduction of a new sliding scale rule for aerodynamic testing. 

We break down what all these changes mean for the future of Formula 1:

Lower cost cap

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the disruptions it has caused to F1’s 2020 season, already resulted in the postponement of the new technical regulations by a year to 2022. However, the introduction of the new financial rules will go ahead as planned in 2021 and this includes the introduction of a cost cap for all the teams. 

The rules initially mandated all teams to adhere to a cost cap of USD 175 million (approximately Rs 1,327 crore), but that limit has now been further reduced to USD 145 million (about Rs 1,099 crore) for 2021. This limit will then reduce to USD 140 million (Rs 1,062 crore) in 2022 and USD 135 million (Rs 1,024 crore) from 2023 onwards. This change has been introduced as a direct result of the pandemic, which has hit the finances of all the teams on the grid.

A lower cost cap means the bigger teams like Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull – who have significantly larger workforces than the independent teams – will have to adjust the size and scale of their operations going ahead. 

The cost cap will apply to anything that covers on-track performance, but will exclude marketing costs as well as salaries of drivers and the top three personnel on the team. The FIA has also made exemptions for employees’ sick leave, costs of medical benefits, etc., to ensure that teams don’t cut costs in these areas to stick to the cost cap. 

Sliding scale aero testing

Another key rule change is the introduction of a new sliding scale for aerodynamic development from next year, with the hopes that it will prevent the bigger teams from gaining a significant advantage over the smaller, independent teams. 

Explained simply, starting from next year, the lower a team finishes in the constructors’ championship, the more wind tunnel time it will be allowed to use to develop its car. So the bigger teams are going to have to figure out ways to use their wind tunnel and CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) time even more efficiently than before. 

The scale will be based on the championship position at the end of the previous season and then reset on June 30 each year.

Limiting downforce on 2021 cars

For next year, teams will have to trim part of the car’s floor to reduce the downforce created, mainly so that a new tyre compound will not be needed for next season, before a switch to 18-inch tyres in 2022.

Other changes

The FIA also introduced some other tweaks to cut costs and promote sustainability.

  • A number of components including the chassis and gearbox have been frozen between 2020 and 2021. A token system will be used to allow a very limited number of modifications.

  • The number of upgrades a power unit manufacturer can make over the course of a season will be limited from next season.

  • Minimum weight will increase by 3Kg to 749Kg for 2021.

Also see:

New F1 technical regulations delayed to 2022

F1 targets July start for 2020 season

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