Safer, cleaner Formula 1 in 2021

drifter car

The following article has been written and researched by Luke John Cassar as part of a graduate assignment.

Seventeen new regulations will come into effect in 2021 in the world of Formula 1. The changes are being made with the aim of making the sport safer and cleaner.

  1. The removal of barge boards, a standardized T-tray under the chassis
  2. Front wing and suspension are being simplified
  3. A ban on hydraulic suspension.
  4. Larger 18-inch wheels and lower-profile tyres.
  5. Bigger brake discs.
  6. The adding of wheel wake control devices known as the “eyebrows”.
  7. The sides of the car will also be strengthened.
  8. Cockpits enlarged to not penalize taller drivers.
  9. Gearbox designs will be frozen for a five-year period,
  10. There will be standardization in the fuel system
  11. Fuel must double in bio-content i.e. 20%.
  12. Increase in the overall weight of an F1 car from 734kg to 767kg make the car slower by 3 seconds.
  13. Bringing downtime at the track from four to three days. Press and PR commitments, as well as scrutineering, will take place on a Friday morning in 2021, while two practice sessions will run on Friday afternoon.
  14. The number of working hours at the track will be reduced, so the curfew for personnel will be much tighter.
  15. The car that is scrutineered at the start of the weekend will be the specification of the car that is raced. New bodywork elements, such as front wings, will only be allowed to be trialled in practice, but cannot be raced on the same weekend.
  16. The governing body is going to impose limits on spending within a regulatory framework. It will be set at $175 million.
  17. Stopping the top teams from spending huge amounts of money on design and developments every race in order to gain a competitive advantage by doing less testing on the wind tunnel.

Racing cars – A noble history

Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport. It has a history dating back to the 1950s. In 2020 Formula 1 will be celebrating its 70th anniversary. But the cars back then were completely different from the cars we have now and the cars we will be having in 2 season’s time in 2021 and this is all due to new rules (technical and non-technical) which come up from time to time to make the sport fairer, faster and most important of all safer. We have lost many people in these 70 odd years in Formula 1 the latter being Jules Bianchi in 2015 after a huge crash in Japan.

Prevention is better than sadness

Death is what the rules try to prevent and the following are the new rules that will be put in place and enforced in 2021 and I also got the views of Mr Pierre Vella a former journalist in the sport and also a Formula 1 Expert.

Mr Pierre Vella started watching his formula 1 in 1979 the South African Grand Prix and he used to watch Formula 1 with his uncle.

The rules are set to reduce the amount of ‘dirty air’ to that is produced from a Formula 1 car, which will enable the following cars to run much closer. A Formula 1 car when following another car loses around 40 – 50% of its downforce thus this results in lack of grip, more tyre-wear and no opportunity to overtake. The rules are set to reduce this lack of downforce to 10%.

In asking Mr Pierre Vella on what he likes most about Formula 1 in general he said that he likes “the engineering point of view” in which he calls “the end product”. Apart also from the drivers whom Mr Vella described them as “living machines”.

So, are these changes just cosmetic?

This is how the car will look like in 2021 as opposed to the current car.

This will be achieved by generating downforce through ground effect, utilizing the floor and diffuser, rather than an over-reliance on surface aerodynamics which is the front wing and rear wing. The F1 car will be less dependent on these wings.

The removal of barge boards, a standardized T-tray under the chassis.

This won’t make a difference as such to the eyes of the fans as it is not that clearly visible but instead of the barge boards we will have cuts to improve air going through under the floor of the car. This is set to decrease the lack of downforce suffered from the following car and makes way to great overtaking.

Front wing and suspension are being simplified.

The front wing will be much simpler thus losing the opportunity to generate new ideas from the development battle outside the track and also the suspension which will make these tools less downforce friendly and engineers have to find other ways of how they can stick the car to the ground.

A ban on hydraulic suspension

This will make the car slower and will have an effect also in the tyre wear as the car will eat up more tyre when driving from one corner to the next as not all corners are simply left and right in formula 1 tracks, some are high-speed corners, some are low-speed corners, you have what is called as a chicane when you have to turn right and then immediately turn left. The hydraulic suspension known as the active suspension was there to change immediately the car’s ride height when going from such different corners on the same track.

Larger 18-inch wheels and lower-profile tyres.

This will be visible to the eye of the fan, but this is there so that F1 tyre supplier Pirelli can be in line with other sport such as the FIA WEC which uses these 18-inch low profile tyres. This will make the sport look more like other racing categories and not have its own unique identity. At present F1 using 13-inch tyres.

Bigger brake discs

With bigger tyres comes bigger brake discs of course but the brake discs will be bigger to generate cooling of the car overall being these amounts.

The adding of wheel wake control devices known as the “eyebrows”.

What is a wheel wake control device? This an added eyebrow on the tyre, this will be introduced to direct airflow from the tyre to the side of the car thus creating cleaner air and result in better racing.

The sides of the car will be strengthened.

This will make the car heavier unfortunately as the material used will have to be much stronger but this is there to increase the safety of the driver if he had an impact from the side of the car.

When asking Mr Pierre Vella regarding the 2021 regulations he said that the gap between the front cars still remain, even though a budget cap is set to be in place.

When asked about the Maltese Formula 1, Pierre was confident enough in saying that “we balance out football enthusiasts.”


There are more rules that will be introduced in 2021. Mr Pierre Vella said that “the general public would like to see that all twenty cars come even closer together to promote greater racing.”

These regulations mark the start of a new era in Formula 1 aiming to further improve the greatest racing spectrum on the planet for all fans around the world by letting the fastest drivers and cars race harder and closer than ever before.