Formula 1
Formula 1
28 Mar
FP1 in
27 days
Emilia Romagna GP
18 Apr
Race in
50 days
09 May
Next event in
68 days
23 May
Race in
85 days
Azerbaijan GP
06 Jun
Race in
99 days
13 Jun
Race in
106 days
27 Jun
Race in
120 days
04 Jul
Next event in
124 days
18 Jul
Race in
141 days
Hungarian GP
01 Aug
Race in
155 days
29 Aug
Race in
183 days
05 Sep
Race in
190 days
12 Sep
Race in
197 days
26 Sep
Race in
211 days
Singapore GP
03 Oct
Next event in
215 days
10 Oct
Race in
225 days
United States GP
24 Oct
Race in
239 days
31 Oct
Race in
246 days
Australian GP
21 Nov
Race in
267 days
Saudi Arabia GP
05 Dec
Race in
281 days
Abu Dhabi GP
12 Dec
Race in
288 days

Why new rules mindset could change F1 forever

The bold package of rules aimed at securing Formula 1's long-term survival that were rubber-stamped by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council today could herald an all-new era for the sport.

Why new rules mindset could change F1 forever

Following backing from F1 teams last week, the 'New Deal' of rules, which covers a wide-range of areas including chassis, engine, sporting and financial regulations, should be formally approved by an e-vote of the WMSC in the next few hours.

But while much of the battleground focus in recent weeks has revolved around cost cutting regulations – and especially the move to reduce a budget cap from $175 million to $145 million for next year before further being cut back – the changes cover a lot of ground and will define the shape of the sport for years to come.

The budget cap level will lead to a slimming down of F1 teams. McLaren's announcement this week that around 70 of its racing team will be laid off so it can operate at the budget cap level is just the first of what is expected to be many job cuts announced over the next six months.

For engine manufacturers there will be a return to the scenario they faced years ago where an engine freeze kept development costs under control at the end of the V8 era.

The idea is that limited engine spec changes to the different components – just one for 2021 and beyond – will pave the way for a full freeze for 2023 and beyond.

With engines frozen, the likelihood is then that the sport can make tweaks to the powerunit design – rather than radically overhaul them – when a new formula of rules are considered for 2025 and beyond.

Those plans, especially as engine development costs are currently outside of the budget cap, will be welcome for all manufacturers.

As Renault F1 team boss Cyril Abiteboul told recently: "We've been able to push for containing the crazy development race on the engine, and it's really insane what we've been spending on the engine. Finally that's going to change."

But it's not cost control and the holding back of development to save money that are potential game changers for the sport – for F1 is about to embrace an all-new way of thinking that may shake-up the competitive order.

For years now, F1 has focused almost all of its efforts on remaining a meritocracy, where teams that perform the best are rewarded the most. There was little sympathy for smaller or new outfits from some of the sport's giants.

But the skew of benefits for the top teams, both financially through bonuses and politically through the creation of the Strategy Group, has led to the creation of a two tier F1 where Red Bull, Mercedes, and Ferrari have become pretty much untouchable.

Liberty Media's rules revamp, originally planned for 2021 but now coming for 2022, was aimed at addressing much of the divide.

However, the coronavirus pandemic appears to have thrust a new spirit of open-mindedness from all teams about thinking collectively, which is why there is the first step towards actually helping fast-track a more level playing field that will be better for the sport as a whole.

Rules like an aero development handicap system, where the slowest teams are allowed more wind tunnel and CFD development time, and the use of open source parts, are concepts that would have been almost unthinkable 12 months ago.

For Abiteboul, such ideas are hugely encouraging for the future.

"For the first time, F1 is going to move towards opening technologies that we are developing," he said. "Having all teams collaborating together and developing what's best in certain areas of the car, with open source components, for me is a fantastic way.

"It is much better, much more efficient, much more fair and transparent, than customer team arrangements."

The changes will not suddenly make teams like Williams world champions again, and nor will they prevent the best brains from producing the best cars, but they will perhaps make enough of a change to stop F1 being so predictable.

And, as one source said, they also mark an important first step in F1 finally thinking of ways that teams and the bosses can all work together to help make something better for the group rather than just an individual outfit.

For if the aero rules and open source ideas work, then what about further rule changes that provide more benefits to the slowest teams – so the competition is constantly kept close and in a state of flux?

Rather than such co-operative plans being viewed as the death of F1 for making a false order, it would actually make success even more well earned and special.

Last year, Carlos Sainz talked about how MotoGP had convinced all its manufacturers to embrace concession rules, where bike-makers that don't perform to a certain level are allowed more testing and updates.

"The main feedback is that they [top teams] were sceptical at first, but now I think they are more happy than ever because they are still winning but they are winning even more and they are fighting against more people," he said.

"That makes the manufacturer and the brand stronger, because they are fighting against more brands. It's a very good example and it's something that I would like to see in the future of F1."

Such hopes look set to be answered soon, and could well open the door to a different F1 in the future where such ideas are suddenly the norm.

Pushed on such a new spirit, Abiteboul said: "We are in a sport, we are competing against each other and I'm not removing that. That needs to stay.

"But finding a way for teams to maybe collaborate a little bit more could probably be one lesson of this crisis, and probably something that the fan, in particular the younger generation that wants to see more collaboration between companies and between nations, would like to see to see more of in F1. We may have in the New Deal, a framework to do this type of thing."

Podcast: The greatest F1 team – number two driver

Previous article

Podcast: The greatest F1 team – number two driver

Next article

F1 tech: Monaco's most mad-cap design ideas

F1 tech: Monaco's most mad-cap design ideas
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble
Why Verstappen isn't interested in the hype game Prime

Why Verstappen isn't interested in the hype game

In a pre-season where Red Bull has been unusually quiet, Max Verstappen has also been guarded about the team's fortunes in 2021. Even after trying the RB16B for the first time at Silverstone, the Dutchman was careful to manage expectations

The pros and cons of F1's 2021 rule changes Prime

The pros and cons of F1's 2021 rule changes

In the strategy for grand prix racing's future, 2021 represents a significant step towards the goal of closer racing and a more level playing field. That's the theory behind the latest raft of changes, but will they have the desired effect?

Formula 1
Feb 24, 2021
What Red Bull is trying to hide with its RB16B launch Prime

What Red Bull is trying to hide with its RB16B launch

Red Bull made no secret of the fact its 2021 F1 car is an evolution of its predecessor, but in keeping the same foundations while hiding some tightly-guarded updates with its RB16B, the team aims to avoid suffering the same pitfalls of previous years

Formula 1
Feb 23, 2021
How Albon plans to fight his way out of Red Bull limbo Prime

How Albon plans to fight his way out of Red Bull limbo

Alex Albon has faced the media for the first time since he lost his Red Bull drive at the end of 2020 and dropped out of a Formula 1 race seat altogether. He has a history of bouncing back from setbacks, so here's what he must do to rise again

Formula 1
Feb 23, 2021
Ranked! Carlin's greatest F1 graduates Prime

Ranked! Carlin's greatest F1 graduates

Carlin has helped guide enough drivers to Formula 1 to fill out an entire grid, plus a handful of reserves, to create a remarkable alumni list. With Yuki Tsunoda set to join that group, has ranked its graduates to grace the grand prix scene...

Formula 1
Feb 22, 2021
Why Alfa's 2021 launch says more about its 2022 plans Prime

Why Alfa's 2021 launch says more about its 2022 plans

Alfa Romeo launched its C41 with a revised front nose, but there's little to suggest it will surge up the leaderboard in 2021. As the team frankly admits, it's putting its eggs in the basket labelled 2022 and hoping to hold the eighth place it earned last year

Formula 1
Feb 22, 2021
Why Gasly’s AlphaTauri haven is a blessing and a curse Prime

Why Gasly’s AlphaTauri haven is a blessing and a curse

Red Bull opted not to re-sign Pierre Gasly even before it decided to drop Alex Albon and so the Frenchman's Formula 1 journey will continue at AlphaTauri. This has positive and negative connotations for one of last season's star performers.

Formula 1
Feb 20, 2021
Eight things Red Bull must do to beat Mercedes in 2021 Prime

Eight things Red Bull must do to beat Mercedes in 2021

After seven years of defeat at the hands of Mercedes, Red Bull is as hungry as ever to secure a fifth world championship. But there are key challenges it must overcome in 2021 to switch from challenger to conqueror

Formula 1
Feb 19, 2021