Regulation changes will “definitely” be in 2022
Formula One managing director Ross Brawn says that the 2021 regulation changes will “definitely” be introduced in 2022 despite pressure from teams to defer them a further year.
The regulation changes designed to create closer racing and level the field were due to be introduced next season, but as formula One looks to save costs because of the delay to the start of the season due to coronavirus the sport is looking to save money where they can.
There were calls from certain team bosses to carry on with cars similar to the current generation until 2023, with Red Bull’s Christian Horner telling Sky F1 last month: “There’s not a single component that is a carryover from 2021 into 2022. It just seems an unnecessary pressure on the system to put that cost into 2021.”
But speaking on Monday’s Sky Sports F1 Show, Brawn, F1’s managing director of motorsports, insisted that the regulations – described as a “turning point” for F1 – will only be delayed a season.
He said, “I think there’s a justifiable need to carry these cars over into next year because we’re in the middle of a terrible virus, and some teams have pushed to delay them a further year.”
The new regulations are designed to create cheaper and less complex cars with heavily-revised aerodynamics aimed at improving overtaking, as well as a reduction of the Grand Prix weekends from four to three days.
Brawn says the sport needs to introduce these rules to make it more economically viable in terms of complexity, where the money’s spent, the competitiveness. He believes it is important to break the more money you have the more competitive you are.
However added, “We still want the great teams to win, we have to maintain the integrity of Formula One, it’s a sport and we need to have the best people winning.”
The first-ever cost-cap will still be on its way in 2021 as planned, with Brawn revealing they are in the final stages of agreeing a reduced spending limit.
Coronavirus testing plan for teams
All Formula One staff attending races will be tested every two days for the coronavirus under plans to get the season underway. The current plan is for the season to get underway at the Austrian Grand Prix in early July after the coronavirus pandemic forced the first 10 races were postpended.
The plan announced last week is to create a ‘biosphere’ at races, requiring all those attending to have been tested and cleared for COVID-19 before entering the environment. On Monday, Motorsport and technical managing director Ross Brawn confirming everyone attending the race would be required to undergo screening every two days.
Brawn said speaking on Sky Sports, “The FIA are doing a great job putting together the structure we need. Everybody will be tested and will have clearance before they can go into the paddock and then every two days, they’ll be tested whilst in the paddock.”
“That will be with an authorised authority, and we’ll keep that system, certainly for all the European races, we’ll be using all the same facilities to conduct that testing. We can ensure that everybody is tested within that environment and tested regularly.”
Brawn admitted that it will be impossible to enforce social distancing guidelines within teams, the skeleton crews attending races would be required to isolate from the other teams.
Part of the plan is to ban the teams from interacting with each other, making them stay at their own hotels and not bringing motorhomes to races. Brawn added “There’s a tremendous amount of work going on between ourselves and the FIA. I’m very encouraged by what I’m seeing and what I’m hearing that we’ll be able to provide a safe environment.”
Big teams should give cars to smaller teams
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown believes that the top teams should offer customer cars for free if they are serious about the practice as a cost-saving measure.
Formula One is currently looking at ways of reducing costs ahead of an expected economic crisis caused by Coronavirus pandemic, which has already forced the opening ten races of the 2020 season to be over. Already the sport has agreed to postpone next years regulation changes and reduce the cost cap to around £125m
Last week, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Motorsport.com that F1 should consider using customer cars to help smaller teams, allowing them to use a year-old chassis from one of the top teams.
Horner said the “fastest way to competitiveness at a cost-effective route” in F1 would be to “just sell them the whole car that we finish with in Abu Dhabi”, eliminating their development costs.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Brown who is a critic of the customer car concept, said they should be donated to smaller teams rather than be sold. He said, “I would say if we went that direction – because those customer cars, a year-old car gets kind of thrown away – then I’d be advocating that they should donate those cars if they really want to.”
“There’s no cost to them. They’ve got all the stuff they’ve done, the R&D, they have the spares, then they should give it to their customers and not charge them.” Brown says that wouldn’t be cost-saving saying that real cost saving would be giving the smaller teams cars.
The debate started about customer cars in Melbourne, with Racing Point being accused of coping last years Mercedes. Some teams have not ruled out lodging a protest at the Austrian Grand Prix about legality of the car.
Speaking about customer cars, Brown said he wasn’t a fan and that people have pushed the boundaries on that recently, where they may have built their own car, but they built someone else’s car.
Online racing “more than a game” – Norris
Lando Norris is insisting that online racing is “more than just a game” and has described Simon Pagenaud’s actions – when the reigning Indy500 champion crashed into him to deny an eSports victory – as “selfish”.
The McLaren driver has been taking part in both F1 and IndyCar’s virtual racing series in recent weeks and was on course to take a second straight victory in the latter’s iRacing Challenge before Pagenaud intentionally slowed down to take the Brit out of the Indianapolis race.
The incident has become something of an internet storm – with McLaren boss Zak Brown tweeting that it was “not what you expect from a champion” – and Norris has also criticised Pagenaud.
Norris told ESPN, “I know it’s virtual and people class it as a game, but it’s become quite a bit more than that over the last few weeks. You still expect people to act professionally, drivers who have experience. Although it’s virtual and that’s what everyone uses as an excuse, it was still taken seriously by pretty much everyone else.”
He says that he and his whole team put a lot of work into the race for it to be ruined by someone being “selfish.” Norris says not to care about someone else which has annoyed him.
Norris’s teammate Oliver Askew barged into the wall by former Haas test driver Santino Ferrucci, who was caught on camera laughing about the incident. Norris says eSports should now be taken more seriously given how much it has grown in the absence of ‘real’ track racing.
He added, “The big conversation is, yes it’s a game, and therefore you shouldn’t care about it, and so on… but at the same time eSports has really got to a point over the last few months where it’s become more serious.”
Norris is expected to take part in Sunday’s Virtual Spanish Grand Prix around the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya.
Expect different looking cars – Green
Racing Point technical director Andrew Green is expecting “slightly different” looking cars next season, despite the 2020 designs being carried over into 2021 as a coronavirus cost-saving measure.
As part of measures to ease the financial fallout from the pandemic, next years regulation change has been delayed at least until 2022, with the 2020 cars being used again next season.
A token system to allow limited areas of development has been proposed as part of the on-going negotiations over F1’s future, and Green expects this to lead to restricted amounts of visual upgrades. Speaking to Motorsport.com, Green said, “There’s a big push to try and maintain as much of the design up and down the pitlane going into 2021 to reduce the car costs.”
“So I think that we will see a significant amount of carryover from all teams and I think some of is going to be enforced by regulation and some of it is just going to be enforced by the timelines that we’re working to now.”
He says with everyone sat at home not working there is no development happening, which means they are naturally moving towards this year’s car racing next year.
With Racing Point changing its name to Aston Martin next season the car will look different and will “reference in the chassis name” when the team’s title changes as part of its tie-up with the manufacturer.
The RP20 caused a stir during 2020 pre-season testing due to its close similarities with the Mercedes W10 from 2019, which Racing Point insists is not grounds for a protest from rival teams