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Teams fear 2021 rules "too prescriptive"

NEWS STORY
26/09/2019

As Brexit sees the UK government descend further and further into chaos, Formula One has its own October deadline to deal with.

While most are agreed on some aspects of the regulation changes planned for 2021, as we get nearer the (second) deadline, an increasing number of dissenting voices can be heard.

Ferrari has voiced its concern at the move towards more standard parts, while Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff believes the engine regulations should be left alone as the performance levels between the different engines begins to converge.

Now, as F1 issues further details of the proposed look of 2021, revealing that the example shown in its windtunnel test a few weeks ago is now being updated with "futuristic" wings and the like, a number of team bosses have voiced their concern that the design regulations are becoming "too prescriptive".

"I doubt there's any aero department that's read those rules and got particularly excited about them," says Christian Horner. "For any aerodynamicist, prescriptive design is not in their DNA.

"(When) some of the regulations were released I think and there were probably a few long faces in the aero department, but that's not just unique to Red Bull and our strengths over the last few years hasn't purely been solely down to aerodynamics.

"It's more digesting those rules, they raise some questions which will no doubt be put forward in the coming meetings which we seem to have endless amounts of and yeah, we will see where they end up."

"Too prescriptive. Yeah, I would say so," added Guenther Steiner. "The budget cap should regulate that the budget cap and the aero development, they can probably use the wind tunnel and CFD just for a limited time should be so it's a little bit close but maybe in the beginning it's good that we're not going too far.

"I think we wait a few weeks until the aero people have got their proper comments because now they act emotionally about it but they will find a way around what they are doing anyway. My opinion is not set yet."

"I'm just a bit scared that if the room of freedom is too small at the end we will end up with like a monotype," said Fred Vasseur, "but it won't be a monotype and we will have to spend millions for this."

"I would like to see more freedom expressed," admitted Zak Brown, "so when you have the budget cap then you're fixed on how much you can spend and if the rules were a little bit more opened up, whether it was aerodynamics or others, then you'd have some more choices to make and you might see cars coming out looking a little bit more differently than they do today, because you could chose where you think you're going to get your competitive advantage.

"That being said, all the engineers in this sport are pretty clever people and so they will figure out areas where they think they can make a differences, so I think it will still be a strong engineering exercise but opened up rules - because the budget cap kind of stops you from just spending - maybe doesn't require that same level of restrictiveness, because you've got that seal that is set for you."

Not for the first time, Renault appeared to be out-of-step with its rivals.

"Looking at 2021, it's going to be such a step change I think it's not bad to start with some things that are fairly prescriptive," said Cyril Abiteboul, "and according to the result that we see, then to progressively open up because the world is not going to stop in 2021, there will be years after that, we will have to come up with evolution like always to the regulations and it will always be the time to free up a bit.

"We still have our aerodynamic capacity and departments' strengths and weaknesses so it will still be a possibility but I think we need to be careful because last time there was such a massive change to regulations - it was 2014 - and that created a cycle that I understand people criticised a lot for the fact that it locked up a performance differentiator so that's why I think it's not bad to do that initially and open up."

Check out our Thursday gallery from Sochi, here.

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1. Posted by alvarezh3, 27/09/2019 20:43

"@Egalitarian

First of all, I welcome your "take" on the subject, it's nice to learn from other's views. Nevertheless, you are making an assumption on the teams use of the term not being intended to imply appearance (more on the last paragraph). Therefore, your "take" on the subject could be true (or not).

If I was to express my "take", the reason teams desire to have broader design freedom would not be to "innovate" without a purpose (as far as I am concerned, the use of that term is just the excuse, a way to justify and to disguise their real wishes). Their objective would be to obtain the greatest possible competitive advantage in order to finish in the podium. More podiums (more points) means higher payments from FOM to them and the possibility for increased income from their advertising revenues. As this is my "take", it could be true (or not).

We all know that the FIA does not want F1 to be a "monotype" series. I am convinced that the teams use this term as a tool to induce fear to the FIA in order to deter them from increased regulation. Again, as I stated, it is obvious to me that the team's ultimate goal is to have broader design freedom in which to obtain a competitive advantage. Once more, this could be true (or not).

On a side note, perhaps the FIA fears, or could even -know-, that there could exist the possibility for some teams to find ways to go around the spending cap without being caught. If this is so, the FIA, for instance, could probably believe that by limiting the areas the teams can modify, the advantage gained would be negligible even if they spent millions on research, hence eliminating a possible and noticeable competitive advantage and/or discouraging them from miss-spending the money in the first place. This could also be true (or not).

I have worked on the rules committee on our FIA affiliated federation and our primary objective was (aside from safety) always to level the competition. I believe that could at least be, one of the FIA's intent. This could -and finally- be true (or not!).

One point I think we could all agree on being certain is that on a racing series, where the cars are designated, called, and/or defined as being "monotyped", aside from the paint scheme, they are, or should be, all identical. Since this is, or I believed it to be, factual (I could be wrong again!), I based my first comment on it, not on what I thought it to be a team's possible intent on their use of the term.

Again, thanks on your thoughts!"

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2. Posted by Egalitarian, 26/09/2019 23:48

"@alvarezh3
My take is that the technical directors etc aren't seeking a 'look' that differs from the others, but that the rules are open enough to promote genuine innovation, but most of all an advantage over others that isn't solely based on the size of budget."

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3. Posted by alvarezh3, 26/09/2019 16:57

"No, no, NO!

asphalt.....asphalted!
"

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4. Posted by alvarezh3, 26/09/2019 16:37

"Correction:

(alphaLted racetrack)"

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5. Posted by alvarezh3, 26/09/2019 16:25

""I'm just a bit scared that if the room of freedom is too small at the end we will end up with like a monotype," said Fred Vasseur, "but it won't be a monotype and we will have to spend millions for this."

By the nineteen seventies (or late sixties), all the constructors had found out that placing the engine behind the driver was the best option. Since then only a few diversion from the current looks (monotype) of the cars has happened. Two of the most prominent ones were the Tyrrel P34 "6 wheeler" and the Brabham BT46B "fancar".

Yes, the chassis and bodywork design regulations have restricted the cars in having radical shapes. But you must consider also that since the cars are designed with the same goals (to lap in the least amount of time), utilized on the same environment (alphasted racetrack) and under the same natural conditions (air mass density), ultimately -Form follows function-. Do to this fact -and I am taking this to a ridiculously highest of extremes- you will never obviously see a F1 car look like a Cat mining truck, a London taxi, or a New York city bus.

To the untrained eye (the not too technical fan, which most likely is the majority), all F1 cars look pretty much the same, but to an aerodynamicist F1 cars look very different. The differences may be subtle, but they see them and there are dozens of them between two cars on the grid.

To an airline passenger it is somewhat difficult to differentiate between an Airbus A320 and a Boeing 737. Yet, there are notable differences which I will just list a few:

Wing airfoil shape.
Wing area, sweep angle and dihedral.
Distance of wing placement between the fuselage's nose and tail.
Size, shape, inclination angles and airfoils of the winglets on the wingtips.
Placement of engines away from the fuselage and the wing's leading edge.
Size, shape, airfoil type of the elements on the empennage.
Placement of landing gears relative to each other and to the fuselage, etc.

At the end of the day they are very different, yet they look like monotyped airplanes even though there are no rules to dictate on how an airplane should ultimately look. Their function dictates that.

On a road sedan you can (almost) shape the body as the designer wishes, the deciding factor is the appeal to the buyer, not the effects of the air passing over the body shape.

To the F1 technical directors out there and to Mr. Zak Brown: Stop the excuses and don't expect that loosened aero rules will make the cars look much different. After a year with the new aero rules all cars will ultimately look monotyped, just as they look NOW. The teams will all copy the best features from each other and there will be many small differences between the cars that the general public, seating on a grand stand, looking at a picture on the internet or behind a TV set, will hardly notice."

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6. Posted by kdxrider, 26/09/2019 15:22

"Ever since I first saw this car the FIA is designing, I got this feeling that F1 will go down the Formula E route.

Same car, just slightly different internals depending who the team is ----

In my opinion, it would be better for the next Concorde Agreement not to be signed up to if you want F1 as we know it.

"

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