Even if Formula 1 teams had to use the same chassis in 2021 as the previous year, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any widespread changes to the car in the upcoming season. In addition to the natural evolution of the designs, there are new rules around the subfloor and other parts intended to reduce some performance.
Part of the lower body is removed, and there are new restrictions in the brake and diffuser shafts – all with the goal of reducing downforce by about 10 percent.
This is due to Pirelli tires, which in its current third year are subjected to increased loads. The fastest lap times paired with the heaviest cars in history ensure that the tires must withstand the greatest forces of all times Formula 1.
This has increased the risk of tire damage, as shown in the UK last year. Silverstone is one of the toughest tracks on tires, with many holes punctured on the 2020 finish windings.
The manufacturer Pirelli was only able to meet the requirements of the highest minimum tire pressure. However, this is not in the best interest of the drivers and the teams as they feel compelled to ride the overcrowded balloons.
Without reducing the downforce, there could have been a risk in 2021 that the natural development of cars would have made the situation worse. While drivers may be upset about the possibility of cars slowing down, a look at the data shows why the FIA feels compelled to act.
A crazy twist since the start of the turbo era
If you look at the lap times in Silverstone, it becomes clear how fast the cars have gone. Here are the times for first place in the British Grand Prix since the start of the turbo era:
2014: 1: 35.766 minutes 2015: 1: 32.248 2016: 1: 29.287 2017: 1: 26.600 2018: 1: 25.892 2019: 1: 25.093 2020: 1: 24.303
With regard to 2014, it has to be said that qualification was affected by wet conditions. However, even without this year, there is amazing progress in this period.
Without this year’s changing aerodynamic rules, cars are almost certain to drive times of 1:23 minutes – the result will be more tire pressure.
The hope is that the base change, along with stronger, stiffer tires, will ensure cycle times are reduced enough to ensure a hassle-free year. It is said that stiffer tires should be slower by 1 second per lap, and changes to the bottom may take longer than expected, according to experts.
Of course, the teams will do everything they can to make up for as much ground as possible before the start of the season. Red Bull would like to get back to where it was at the end of the season: “The goal is to get the downside from the end of the 2020 season,” says Red Bull motorsports advisor Helmut Marco. “You lose about 20 percent.”
However, it is unlikely that you will find the difference the same amount of time as in previous years.