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The Changes Ahead - New Rules for F1 in 2021

Photo by Carl J on Upsplash

After a period of stability that has seen complaints about a lack of overtaking and on-track actions, as well as complete dominance of the Mercedes team, Formula 1 will be introducing major rule changes in 2021. The rule changes are part of Liberty Media's attempts to make the sport more interesting to fans in America. Formula 1 has traditionally struggled in attracting large audiences in the USA, and it is hoped that more exciting on track action can persuade more Americans to tune in to races. Bookmakers in the United States will be playing close attention to the success of the changes, in the hopes to capitalise on this growing interest. Wagering on Formula 1 is common in the UK and other parts of Europe, but not in the United States.

Instead, Indycar and NASCAR are much more popular among US motorsports fans. As changes to legislation drive a growth in the sector in the US, major brands like FoxBet are seeking to attract new NASCAR fans by providing information and education on how to place bets. It's important to remember that there are many different ways to place wagers, for example, the spread betting consists of betting on the outcome of an event where the pay-off is based on the accuracy of the wager.

Aero Revolution

Cars in 2021 will look radically different to the current crop of cars. Instead of the current philosophy, which involved the creation of large front and rear wings to create downforce, the new cars will make use of the ground effect. This will mean that cars will be simpler, have smaller wings with a “sweeping” effect in the design.

The intention of this shift in focus from body work to under-floor aerodynamics is to allow the cars to travel closer together. One of the biggest complaints in Formula 1 at the moment is that overtaking can be difficult, especially as drivers have to preserve their tyres when following in the “dirty air” of the car in front.

Cars will also have lower profile tyres, finally moving away from the 13-inch rims and large tyre walls that have been synonymous with the sport for decades. Instead, 18-inch rims and low-profile tyres will help to reduce drag, along with wheel wake control devices and sweeping aerodynamics that directs airflow over the top instead of around. Further changes to this area of the cars will see simplified suspension to further reduce the “wake” behind the cars.

New Tyre Compound

The tyres themselves will also be changing. The compounds used currently were designed so that they would thermally degrade, forcing the cars to pit more often. The idea behind this was to create more unpredictability, similar to the 2011 race in Canada. However, it has mostly resulted in drivers having to drive below their limits to preserve their tyres. This will end in 2021, with Pirelli tasked with making tyres less sensitive to heat, allowing drivers to push harder for longer.

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LED Display Boards

Cars are to be fitted with LED display panels on their wheel rims and on the bodywork. This will be to allow spectators at the track to see information while the cars are travelling, although it is not yet confirmed what exactly these boards will display.

This continues the trend we have seen in the last couple of years with the F1 TV feed, which has seen more and more statistics and data provided to viewers via TV graphics.

Budget Cap

Many consider Formula 1 is suffering from an almost two-tier system, with a group of teams that have almost bottomless budgets, and another that operates on a shoestring. This financial disparity means that some teams are able to develop their cars much more through the season, making it more difficult for smaller teams to be competitive.

A budget cap has been discussed for decades, but it could never be agreed between the FIA and the teams. Finally, a $175 million per year cap will be introduced from 2021, with strict penalties for breaches. However, this cap will only cover “competitive” aspects, meaning costs like marketing, staff wages, and administration are excluded from the new cap.


The engines used in Formula 1 since 2014 have been 1.6 litre V6 turbo hybrid power units, designed to be more efficient by capturing and reusing energy normally lost as noise and heat. This has resulted in cars capable of delivering 1000 bhp, but has made them a lot quieter than fans are used to.

The engine specifications will not be changing for 2021. It was felt that removing the hybrid elements of the engines would go against the trend in the automotive sector to build more energy efficient engines and cars. Several engine manufacturers also declared that they would reconsider their position in the sport if the hybrid elements were removed.

Overall, Formula 1 will be radically different for 2021. The cars will be significantly different to anything seen previously in the sport. While it is too early to say for certain, it is likely that the changes will contribute to closer, more exciting racing, which will, in turn, help the sport to grow.