2021 F1 car concepts

F1 reveals three concepts for new-look cars for 2021

2021 F1 season

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Formula 1 has revealed how cars could look under radical new rules proposed for 2021.

F1’s managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn said the sport intends to change how cars are designed in order to allow them to race together more closely.

“Once the cars get within a few car lengths of each other, they lose 50% of their downforce. That’s a substantial amount of performance lost. So we set about understanding why that was and how we can improve it. I’m pleased to say we’re at about 80%.”

Among the changes F1 wishes to introduce is structures around the wheels to help control the airflow in order to allow cars to follow more closely. These can be seen in some of the three concepts which have been presented.

Improving the cars’ aesthetics was another goal, Brawn added. “We want cars that look better than what you see in a video game, cars that kids want to have up on their walls.

“At each stage, as we have been evolving the car, we’ve had someone we are working with create a graphic representation artist to give us a feel of what the car could look like.”

Lewis Hamilton gave a positive reaction to the design. “This shit looks dope [as fuck],” he wrote on social media. “I’m [definitely] gonna be driving if cars look like this… just please bring a V12 or V10 back.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff told Sky the new car “looks great”.

“The car looks modern and cool. The Halo is more aesthetically pleasing than it was before. So if that is the regulations for 2021, only from an aesthetic point of view, count me in.”

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Concept 1

2021 F1 car concepts
2021 F1 car concept one

Concept 2

2021 F1 car concept two
2021 F1 car concept two

Concept 3

2021 F1 car concept three
2021 F1 car concept three

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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82 comments on “F1 reveals three concepts for new-look cars for 2021”

  1. Those look amazing, although I couldn’t give a flying… about how they look as long as the claim that they’ll be 30% more capable of following other cars is true.

    1. @hahostolze and that, without DRS in concept 3 … ;)

    2. I hate the “nose”. Is it really necessary? The lap times are probably going to increase quite a bit with cars as simple as these.

  2. Is… Is that Daytona? …Interesting choice of venue.

    1. America is the future

    2. If they wanted to show the cars on an American track, they could’ve picked COTA. I feel like Liberty is trying to make a point by showing the future F1s on an oval track: F1 is going to become more American. Really weird to do that IMO.

      1. And they’re running the oval backwards at that. Very odd…

        1. Not that odd, @markzastrow.
          That’s how F1 ran at Indianapolis.

          1. @coldfly Yes, but Daytona’s roval doesn’t run that way!

          2. @coldfly Yes, but Daytona’s roval doesn’t run that way!

    3. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
      14th September 2018, 20:10

      @hey – This is what happens when you hire graphic artists that have no clue about racing. I don’t think this is any type of foreshadowing as @francorchamps17 mentions.

  3. If you trust the FIA to write these rules in such a way that teams DON’T figure out there is a performance advantage in putting a Doorstep over the front suspension and strapping a dildo to the nose than it is your own fault if you are disappointed, really.

    1. @mrboerns The problem is that you have a few dozen people with fairly limited resources (Compared to what the teams have) at the FIA/FOM writing regulations for teams that have hundreds of people & far more resources with far more advanced computer systems, software, simulators & wind tunnels looking for any/every exploit.

      You also don’t want the rules to be too restrictive because you want teams to have the freedom to come up with there own designs & for them to find innovative solutions which others (FIA/FOM included) may not have thought of.

      One of my fears for 2021 is that they go too far towards spec designs with too many restrictions & too many shared parts because that simply isn’t what I want F1 to be.

    2. Yes indeed @mrboerns; I think that either the rules will aim for this and fail (just like no sidepod has that sweeping front, all teams found another way to keep them most efficient, ie. straight), or they have to be very prescriptive and thus become form over function.

      I don’t really like these designs (and that they are: designs) it looks very cartoony, and indeed ‘gamey’ but not in a good way. Like the new Formula-e car, it looks very much like someone drew ‘cool’ lines and then maybe allowed the engineers to tone it down into a somewhat sensible shape. Now, I guess that is the ultimate in ‘road car relevant’ as that is how those are designed nowadays, but it isn’t what a sport that claims top engineering as part of its qualities.

      1. Talking of the new Formula-e car, isn’t concept three sort of a toned down version of that, especially around the middle?

        And the top view shows that the designers harken back to the shape of the early nineties cars – now, I love the look of that 7-up Jordan that gave Michael Schumacher his first few F1 corners in a race, but really, unless you make it the spec (not my idea of f1), aero advancements will mean that the cars will just not look like that.

        1. Just what I was thinking @bosyber, really does have a Formula-E Gen 2 car feel about it all.

  4. By the time you have 10+ teams & hundreds of engineer’s digging through the regulations you know the cars won’t look like that & that within a few years there will be just as much dirty air affecting the cars just as badly as today.

    I honestly believe that you could go back to full-on ground effects with sliding skirts & everything & you still wouldn’t see as much close racing or overtaking as people like to think there would be, At least not long term because teams will always find something because you can’t make them unlearn all the aero knowledge they have.

    It’s not like Indycar or the various junior categories where you have a spec chassis/aero package so can come up with something that works & not have to worry about it until you start thinking about the next car. You have 10+ different designs been worked on constantly by hundreds of very clever people looking for any advantage & any exploit to give them minute gains of downforce/performance & for as long as you have this you will never be able to find a car design concept that will work to produce what people want.

    1. This. 100% this. The engineers will always prioritise performance over aesthetics and will exploit every loop-hole and mis-word in the regulations, no matter how ugly the results.

      I fully expect the first year of these new regs to produce some absolute shockers, but I would love for F1 to disappointment me yet again…

    2. I agree. I don’t like concepts like these because they never end up looking like that. But as long as the regulations are directed towards close racing I don’t give a flying about the looks!

    3. @stefmeister, that is indeed the same complaint that Frank Dernie, the chief designer of the Williams FW07 and FW08 (some of the most successful “ground effect” cars of their era) has made – that people throw around the term “ground effects” as if it were some sort of magical panacea that will make everything wonderful, and seem to think that it has no downsides or that no compromises need to be made.

    4. You make excellent points @stefmeister but surely it must be at least theoretically possible to write rules in such a way as to simplify aero and funnel all those engineering smarts into other areas? I don’t have any close knowledge of racecar design, but seems to me what’s really lacking is the political will to push something like that through because teams have too much invested in the current way of doing things.

    5. Thank you. 100% was was going through my mind but I could not elaborate it so well.

  5. They look very nice… but I still think a canopy would look better than the halo. They actually look very very similar to a concept design released last year – minus the canopy. But if the racing is better, teams can survive financially and the best rather than the richest drivers are on the grid, happy days!

    1. I actually think the halo is one of the most attractive parts in this design. I like that they seem to have tried to smooth it in rather than futile attempts to mask it.

      The side profile annoys me though. Working down from the engine cover it’s just too busy with so many different lines.

      I approve of the rear wing.

      I don’t think, overall, that they’ve over worked it and made it too gimmicky and like @bosyber I’m very apprehensive of the FE approach of winning fans over with dramatic design with no substance behind it. I think this is a fair evolution.

      Whether it improves overtaking we won’t know for a while. So I’ll leave it at aesthetic judgements. But I’m cool with it on paper as it stands, provided the teams have scope for innovation.

  6. Wow – those look amazing!

    But I’ve seen McLaren and Red Bull and countless other teams reveal “concept” car art which looks amazing, but in reality we end up with such things as penis-noses, insane front wings, and hideous halos.

    I hope that because this is an F1 release rather than a team release, that it hold a bit more water and could be more indicative of what might be. The images above are beautiful and the Halo looks like it’s been integrated into the overall aesthetic rather than bolted on as an afterthought.

  7. These 2021 concept cars look cool although I couldn’t really care less about the aesthetics-aspect as long as the intended target indeed were to be achieved, which, in the end, is all that matters.

  8. Concept 3 for me.

    It looks radical where as the other 2 look like evolutions of today.

    1. Yeah 3 looks like a proper F1 car.

    2. +1 Concept 3, just do it Formula 1. It’s not even up for debate.

  9. Look amazing. Shame they won’t have ground effect, would like them to be at least as quick as current cars.

  10. Disappointed Ferrari has abandoned their innovative sidepod design

  11. I think I like Concept 2 the best. That looks like a Formula 1 car to me. I love the simplicity of it: The simple wings, not too many flaps and winglets. Even the halo looks nice. I would like to see a bigger rear wheel but that’s probably too retro and just personal taste.

    I do worry I’m a bit old fashioned though and its not radical enough for the future. It might be that Concept 3 would be better at attracting the attention – it’s quite spaceship looking.

    All three are nice though and I wouldn’t be put off watching any of them.

    1. + 1. I prefer 1 or 2.

  12. The cars in the head image have some kind of partial rear wheel cover which is not present in any of the 3 concepts. Would that be concept 4? Is there any talk about allowing that kind of cover? If so, it seems like the first step towards closed wheels.

  13. Mercedes still ahead it seems :P

  14. I need to change pants

  15. The solution to the airflow seems to be isolating the front wheels with some additional elements added to the bargeboards and/or near front suspension mounts.
    On concept 2 they almost have to be turning with the wheels, it seems.

  16. Never liked these 80s sci-fi renders with clean-looking smooth lines.
    I like to think that whatever happens on an f1 car is functional and adds performance, and the beauty of an open-wheel single-seater racing car is a subjective thing if there ever was one, so pursuing that as a goal on its own seems weird. They only became beautiful for us because they were functional in the first place.

    1. +1 to this, I realize I’ve made the same point as you, only much later!

  17. Concept 3 for me. And good for the designer sticking it to Liberty by using the old F1 logo on the sidepods :)

  18. Rear fenders like 2008 almost and front wheel barge boards.. Who would have thought?

    1. Curious only the first glam shot shows those rear fenders; I don’t see them on the other concept images.

  19. Improving the cars’ aesthetics was another goal, Brawn added. “We want cars that look better than what you see in a video game, cars that kids want to have up on their walls.

    Please let form follow function.

    F1 cars through the years have looked amazing because they were designed with one goal – speed. Not to look pretty.

    Don’t go all Formula E when designing the cars.

  20. Haha, they look like current IndyCars! I love it! Do more things like IndyCar! :)

  21. Leave the cars as they are. Concentrate on making it viable for new teams and manufacturers to enter F1.

  22. The on-track illustration reminded me of a couple of seals coming up the beach and the back end of the halo looks very “draggy”, no doubt the wind tunnel will change everything and make the stylists cry when they see what the engineers have done with their regulations.

    1. @hohum – very nice comparison to seals, I can’t unsee it after your comment 😊

  23. I don’t really care how pretty the cars look. I rather hope the teams will be more closely-matched and allow for closer racing. It would be really bad to compromise those aspects only to make cars look more pretty.

  24. Concept 3 + V12… or V10… ok, ok, I’ll take a V8.

  25. How to fix F1?

    1. Run the Daytona Oval backwards.
    2. ???
    3. Profit!

  26. Let’s face it, we’ll never see a return of V8’s-V12’s. That is just the sad truth, however, Concept 3 or Concept 2 with a 18000 RPM Twin-Turbo V6 will do just fine for me. Sounds like a mini-V12.

    Lest we forget, the Red bull x cars that were in Gran Turismo used a high-revving Twin-Turbo V6 and that sounded great to me, though I think that was a 3.5 litre engine. And like other Twin-Turbo V6’s, the sound is immense when done properly. Single Turbo 13000 RPM V6 just doesn’t do it for me, especially as they’re 1.6 litre engines

  27. OK, I don’t know if this will be the final shape of things to come, but I definitely like what I see! Love how they’ve integrated the halo as part of the design rather than the bolted-on look of the current design.
    My advice to the FIA: Don’t think, just go with it!

  28. So… It’s basically the new FE car, only in a bigger size.

  29. Is it just me, or it’s the old F1 logo on the third picture?

  30. Seems like Hotwheels figures. Definitely kids will want to have’em up at their walls.

  31. My first thought was Oh Please!. It’ll take about 2 minutes before aerodynamicists start putting winglets and thinglets and thislets and thatlets all over the car. In fact they should give the teams a scale model of the car and let the engineering staff have at it and then have them turn the models in after 3 or 4 months to see what will really happen to the cars. Then maybe they can start framing the rules to prevent modifications that will prevent close racing.

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  33. F1’s managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn said the sport intends to change how cars are designed in order to allow them to race together more closely.

    Lather, rinse, repeat and prosper. How long has this guy been saying this? And still hasn’t come close to fixing it. Yet his bank account keeps getting bigger.

    1. Liberty completed the take-over of F1 in January 2017. By then, the cars are about 3-4 weeks from testing, so nothing Liberty could have done in that amount of time was going to change the design of the cars for that year, it was far too late. Since 2017 itself was a major change with the increase in width and other factors, it was a nearly complete redesign of the aerodynamics and imposing another complete redesign for 2018 would have been excessively expensive for the smaller teams. Plus, Brawn said when he was hired that their regulation change recommendations (that they then must negotiate with FIA) would be data driven instead given over to the whims of Bernie. Liberty set about giving him resources and a team to investigate with CFD and wind tunnel testing so that the solutions they propose would have some chance of achieving the desired results. For 2019, they are changing the front wing which means every other surface on the cars needs to be looked at again because of how much the front dictates the airflow around the rest of the car. Now, finally Brawn has some proposed designs that are no doubt the starting point of deliberations and further testing for a few years from now. This is as it should be.

      Your expectations are wildly out of line with real world concerns and practical limitations. Maybe you are used to abrupt changes pulled from the rectum of Mr. Ecclestone or out of Jean Todt’s ecodream future. I, for one, am glad FOM finally have some engineering research in place underpinning their suggestions with enough time given to negotiate, refine, and allow the teams to implement in a reasonable time frame.

      1. Yes, but you can’t yell in emotional outrage if you take facts into account!

        1. @pastaman: Get more fun, louder FACTS! ;-)

  34. I am all for a big change of the technical rule book and at first I thought having Brawn on board would lead to a good thing, given his background. But this announcement worries me. It now seems to me that they are going at it from the wrong end, kind of what they have done the last few times rules have changed. They are trying to first come up with a precise target concept car, and then shape rules that forces everyone to design that exact car. That is doomed to fail.

    The more detail you put into the concept the worse it’s going to get when the actual race teams get at it, because they are not interested in making the same car that has already been presented – they want to build the fastest car possible no matter what it looks like. And the more details there are that are expected to look like they do in the concept – the more chances to end up with something that doesn’t. It will all just lead to rules being clamped down one bit after another to force the actual race cars closer to the expected concept and then we might as well just have a one spec series. That is not Formula 1.

    1. Ha. That’s an excellent point…
      But they do have a car in mind, and even if its not a certain visual – its a set of characteristics, quite tricky ones too – ability to follow each other while hitting a certain performance target, and then safety.
      Kinda hard not to have a whole car visualised by them time you took all that into account while making the new formula?
      I just dont understand how would you see the process?

      1. You need to have goals of what you want to achieve with a set of rules, that is absolutely true. What I don’t like is that they are also trying to dictate precisely how that should be achieved all the time.

        For example, a few years ago they wanted the noses of the cars to be lower, for good reasons. The high noses was becoming a safety concern as they could potentially slide up over the chassis of another car in a collision – and hit the driver of that other car. So what did they do? They started defining exactly how a nose had to be shaped, and none of the teams came up with the expected solution because for them only performance mattered. What I think they should have done is change the crash-test of the nose. Instead of only measuring the deceleration forces when hitting a wall – try it against a lower wall, or perhaps a more race-car shaped object. If the nose cone then ends up climbing over that low wall, as opposed to crumpling and dissipate the forces, the test would fail. That would leave the actual solution and design up to the teams while still achieving the goal of not having noses that are potentially dangerous in car-on-car crashes.

        Other goals are harder or perhaps even impossible to solve in a similar way, like the following in dirty air problem we are much focused on now. The chosen solution for that seems to be defining the exact size, position and shape of wings, diffusers, bodywork and so on. But I’m positive it would be possible to reach the same goal without defining the solution like that. Maybe there could be a test that measures the turbulence behind the car with a standardized aero-rake, much like the teams are doing themselves in winter testing?

  35. For some reason, I dont know why, that concept 3 reminds me on F22 Raptor.

    1. It does have a similar diamond shape to the side pods that mimic the wings of the F22.

  36. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
    14th September 2018, 23:03

    They look ok.

    Hamilton’s comment is cringeworthy. Enough to make 2023 a reality rather than 2021!

  37. Shorter wheelbase, yes please

  38. Heh, so we’re pouring over these concepts, and in my quick flick through, no-one’s looked close enough to notice the old F1 logo on Concept 3?

    :D

    1. You should look closer at the comments, it was noticed.

  39. Not very impressed about the concepts. All of them get the basic measurements and portions of the cars wrong. Unless the cars are supposed to become a meter shorter all of these pictures show something that is not realistic or even descriptive about how the cars will look. The 2017 mercedes was about 5.7 meters long and 2 meters wide meaning its length/width ratio was 2.85. These concepts have much smaller ratios meaning all these concepts are A LOT shorter even if we assume 2m total width. If these new cars are supposed to be narrower then some of them will be almost 2 meters shorter than the current cars!

    Concept 1 is 40cm too short. The concept 2 is about 60cm too short. Concept 3 is a whopping 1.3 meters shorter than current cars!!! Of course the cars are going to look better when they are no longer as long as london bus. Very disappointed how misleading these pictures are.

    1. I don’t understand the point you are trying to make. Why can the new car designs not be shorter than the current versions?Why is this unrealistic?

      Unlike some I actually prefer 1 or 2 to concept 3. I think they look pretty good.

      1. There is no indication that the 2021 cars will be shorter. Also it is not really possible to make the cars this short because the hybrid engine package is so large.

  40. One of the great things about rainy days is you get to see how the aerodynamics work on cars, especially when driving along the motorway. So these are my uneducated musings on the 3 Concepts.
    Looking at the rear wheels on these cars you can see the rear wheels are going to be producing an oscillating tail of air behind them, just the same as what you seen behind a car on the motorway on a rainy day. I have a theory that putting some sort of taper behind the wheel will prevent that. Normally you wouldn’t be allowed to do that because F1 is an open wheel series, but I noticed they’ve attempted to do this on the front wheels, so I can’t see why you can’t put some sort of shaped “mud flap” behind the rear wheels. The primary aim of this is to reduce the dirty air presented to a following car, but it might also benefit the car fitted with this.
    Looking at the rear of the car, only the rear of Concept 3 is clearly shown, and that is closest to what I think the rear of the car should look like, except the taper shouldn’t be just in the middle, it should extend the width of the car. Again, the primary reason is to reduce the dirty air presented to a following car, but maybe there will also be a benefit to the car fitted with this.
    Looking at the rear wing, we have a range of shapes. I do like the shape of a birds wing, so I’m wondering if F1 could benefit from using a shape like that. For example, if a car looses traction at the rear the downforce on the rear wheels decreases because the rear wing is less efficient. So once you start to spin you definitely spin. Maybe, if you had a more delta shaped rear wing, or even better a double delta wing (similar to what some birds have) then if the rear wheels lost traction and the rear started to slip sideways the downforce on one or both rear wheels would increase, giving you potentially better grip, so stopping the spin. Unfortunately I’m sure aerodynamics is far more complicated than that.
    Looking at the front of the car, I don’t like any of them. I guess I have conflicting ideals. F1 is an open wheel racing series, so the front wheels shouldn’t have a wing in front of them. I didn’t think you could get enough downforce to achieve the 4g braking if the front wing was that small, so we have to live with wide front wings. Really, the aim of these rules is to reduce the dirty air presented to a following car, so from that point of view I don’t see the front wing making a lot of difference. However, it is the first line of defence to dirty air when there’s a car in front. Maybe there’s a place to allow for active front wings, so that they can increase and decrease the downforce depending on the circumstances. After all, aeroplanes do it all the time, so why not in F1? As I said, I don’t think this would affect the car behind, but it would allow the car behind to perform better when closely following a competitor.
    For example, we have rules regarding DRS, so why not use the same or similar rules that allow a driver to have Downforce Enhanced System on their front wing? So when a car is one second behind a car the driver is allowed to activate DES and the front wing improves its car following performance.

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