Explained: F1’s 2021 blueprint aimed at making the racing better

Jonathan Noble

While discussions have become very advanced with teams in finalising what direction F1 goes, the sport’s bosses have kept many of the details locked away up until now.

But with those talks advancing to try to reach approval of the new rules by September 15, for ratification by the FIA on October 31, the first confirmation has emerged about exactly what will change for 2021.

Here is a summary of what's being planned for 2021…


2021 Formula 1 concept

2021 Formula 1 concept Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

As revealed earlier, the car concept itself is being completely overhauled, with a new ‘ground effect’ design being introduced that it is hoped will allow cars to follow each other more closely. The series of venturi tunnels under the car which feed a large twin diffuser will help produce much more of the car’s downforce, and will not be as sensitive to turbulence as the current cars are.

F1 still has some issues to solve, because an initial design of a simpler wider front wing has not won everyone over.

The FIA's head of single seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis said: “The front wing, we are still not completely pleased about. Both from an aerodynamic point of view and from an aesthetic point of view.

“So we are trying to make it better in both aspects. There are good reasons why the wing is very wide, aerodynamically, but we agree it is not the best visually.”

18-inch Pirelli tyres

18-inch Pirelli tyres Sutton Images

Sutton Images

F1 is looking to ensure that tyre characteristics do not hinder the racing either, as it’s clear that drivers are currently held back in battles because their tyres overheat when they follow other cars closely.

Tombazis added: “We are in to very deep consultation with Pirelli about how to make the tyres really step up and be at the position that they enable people to race.[That means] they don’t degrade, they don’t force people to manage the tyres so much, are. 

“This is something we are working very closely with Pirelli and we have understood a lot of things that will make a significant different in that aspect.”

F1 will also be banning tyre blankets for 2021, when the sport will switch to 18-inch wheels.

Ferrari SF70H front wheel and Pirelli tyre in blanket

Ferrari SF70H front wheel and Pirelli tyre in blanket Sutton Images

Sutton Images


There will be a host of changes to the technical rules too to both bring down costs and level the playing field.

These include

* A more simplified fuel system

* More simplified radiators

* Frozen specification of gearboxes for five years

* Hydraulic suspension banned

* Standard wheel rims

* Standard wheel hubs/nuts and pit equipment

* Standard brake systems

* Restrictions on the use of certain materials

* A 40% reduction of windtunnel time for teams

Toyota's windtunnel in Cologne

Toyota's windtunnel in Cologne Toyota Racing

Toyota Racing


FIA president Jean Todt revealed at the British Grand Prix that he has asked F1 to evaluate whether or not refuelling should return for 2021.

But that is not the only major rule change being evaluated, with even the format of a race weekend being looked at to see what changes can be made.

Other major topics that are up for discussion includes…

* The reduction in the use of driver aids and electronics

* The reduction in the use of car-to-pit telemetry

* The introduction of more standard parts

* The simplification of the lower part of the chassis

* A reduction in the weight of an F1 car

* A reduction in the number of personnel at race weekends

Mercedes team celebrates British GP victory

Mercedes team celebrates British GP victory Steve Etherington / LAT Images

Steve Etherington / LAT Images


F1 is constantly evolving the idea for the 2021 car as its research continues, and F1 managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn is clear that even once the rules are finalised in October that that will not mean the end of the road for the work.

“The group we have at FOM will not stop work when the rules are issued,” “That group is going to carry on working.

“As we see the team’s solutions evolve, we will analyse those solutions if they are starting to negate the objectives and steer it back again. This is not a one-stop shop: we will monitor and develop and tune the solutions to make sure we maintain these objectives.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing and Ross Brawn, Managing Director of Motorsports, FOM on the grid

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing and Ross Brawn, Managing Director of Motorsports, FOM on the grid Mark Sutton / Sutton Images

Mark Sutton / Sutton Images