Carlos Sainz Jnr, McLaren, Monza, 2019

2021 F1 cars ‘could be quite close’ to current performance – Key

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In the round-up: McLaren technical director James Key think F1 cars may not be up to seven seconds slower than this year’s cars.

What they say

Force India CEO Otmar Szafnauer suggested the 2021 F1 rules could make cars up to seven seconds slower but Key’s prediction was more cautious when asked how he thought lap times would change in 2021:

I’m not going to give you a number because I think it’s too early to say. I don’t want to get pinned down by number on the ’21 regs too early.

But I think all the teams need to work at this to work out how much potential there is. FOM and the FIA have had done a great job of putting out a very different set of guidelines for how a car should be and we’re in the process at the moment, all teams in the process are trying to understand, as they mature a little bit, trying to understand what that really means, what a quick ’21 car is.

Will there be a bit of grip loss for those different 18-inch rim tyres? Maybe, they’ll be different animals. The aero is more I suppose you could say slightly more simple than we see now but. But there’s a lot of different mechanisms for generating performance with the aero. And the engines will be the same.

So I think we need to see how all of these things combine to give us a better picture. But we’re not talking massive differences, I wouldn’t have said, at this stage. It could actually be quite close, but we’ll see.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Does changing the race format for certain weekends only jeopardise the integrity of the championship?

I don’t like this experiment idea on one to two championship weekends, because it would interfere with the championship.

As others stated, imagine a close championship between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull that was decided somehow by one of these reverse grid Saturday mini-races that produce the final grid for Sunday instead of the normal Saturday qualifying we’re used to and love. I understand Brawn’s point of view, not to make radical changes at once and test the water before something is implemented to the rulebook, but that’s not the way to do it.

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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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24 comments on “2021 F1 cars ‘could be quite close’ to current performance – Key”

  1. It would be funny if this time around David Schumacher becomes a multiple WDC driver and Mick just scores the occasional win.

    1. Jonathan Parkin
      25th September 2019, 4:56

      Wasn’t he named after DC? At least that’s what I heard

  2. I actually see the differences in opinions between Szafnauer’s and Key’s opinions as a good sign. Uncertainty about the impacts of a massive change in regulations may mean teams may be approachingthe challenges from vastly different angles. Might spring a surprise or (fingers crossed) four.

    1. I think what a lot of people are missing about Szafnauer’s comments about the cars being 6 seconds a lap slower in 2021 is development. Okay, in Racing Point’s simulations they may be 6 seconds a lap slower. That’s right now though. With the way Formula 1 develops, by the time the cars are launched in 2021 (including Racing Point’s own offering), and with Pirelli surely making large strides in performance with their 18 inch tires, the cars will surely be about 3 or 4 seconds faster than these initial simulations. Add in some engine developments from the manufacturers over the next year and a half, and feasibly, the cars may only lose a second in overall speed. Not even noticeable to the naked eye, and if it means the cars can follow each other efficiently, I’d be happy for them to give up that second. Hell, if it meant better, DRS-free racing, I think I’d be happy to leave them be 6 seconds slower.

      1. And let’s not miss the fact that Szafnauer claimed ‘up to’ seven seconds slower, which can mean 1 or 2 seconds as well.

      2. @kevinc – I think this is exactly right. Every time cars are slowed either purposefully or as a side effect of other changes (e.g. engine displacement, aero), within a few seasons at most, they are right back on the pace or ahead.

        Even if cars were 3, 4, 5 seconds slower at the start of 2021, if the racing is better then the only people who will car are nutters. The speeds will increase every race and every season. Make the cars/teams closer together and make it where teams can actually compete and you will get fans and viewers.

    2. @thepostalserviceisbroke @kevinc @robbie @hobo
      Good points indeed, and I agree with everything. I hope the lap times would stay stable, similar to how they’ve essentially been since 2017, but even if they were to be some 2, 3 seconds slower at the beginning of the 2021 season compared to the present, they claw that back by time anyway via evolution through stable regs as happened from 2014 to ’15, and ’15 to ’16, and ’17 to ’18 on most of the venues.

  3. With regards to the possible change yo the qualifying format being trialled at one or two rounds, isn’t this what F2 or F3 are for?

    I get the cars aren’t the same and it’s hard to necessarily translate the results from one to F1 but we shouldn’t be using F1 as the guinea pig for that sort of thing.

    I don’t like the idea that it could influence the outcome of the championship in F1 as referenced in the comment of the day.

    Whilst not disrespecting either F2 or F3 championships, F1 is meant to be the pinnacle – not where you flippantly trial something to see if it works. We saw how well that went with that ridiculous knock out qualifying system back in 2016 wasn’t it?

    1. “We saw how well that went with that ridiculous knock out qualifying system back in 2016 wasn’t it?“

      Yeah exactly…. LIFE WENT ON!

      Come on guys, relax the holier than thou, “wWHAT ABOUT THE WDC?!?!?!?”, crap. It’s a racing series, not life and death…

      1. No, it is much more important than that ;)

    2. I agree with COTD, and believe that any trials should occur either in non-championship rounds (which F1 doesn’t have), or as Jason has suggested, in junior formulae.

    3. Agreed. Brawn says they can’t stand still, but the basic format of qualifying and racing is what makes it what it is.

      It’s not the W-series.

    4. OK so we’ve come up with the idea that we want to trial a new format, or possibly formats, in a few selected races next year.

      Hopefully, a cost analysis has been performed already to determine whether or not there will be additional costs to teams. Things like PU wear, extra tyre allowances, possible longer hours for mechanics and race staff etc.

      If there’s an increased cost for teams, who foots that bill?

      Teams will also need to know well in advance what tracks these trials will take place on so they can plan their engine & gearbox life cycles and a myriad of other details, so the actual “plan” for these will need to be published sooner rather than later.

      I get what Ross/FOM are saying, I really do, but frankly we seem to be getting a “idea fest” at the moment when in fact actual substance and real facts need to be settled and quickly.

      Again it leads me to wonder whether all of this is just distraction so that people, especially the media don’t focus on the actual 2021 regulations too hard.

      1. @dbradock, or, perhaps, stopping them focussing on the fact that the 2021 regulations still seem to have not been signed off yet, even though they are now badly overdue – partially because the ideas being thrown about by the FIA and Liberty Media seem to have thrown the negotiations off track.

        1. Very good point. I’ve long held the opinion that the ideas phase should have been in 2017 and some of 2018. Possibly they were but why surface them now unless there’s some motive for disruption or distraction?

          1. @dbradock Just as you would call me predictably defensive of Liberty and Brawn, you are predictably pessimistic. Some motive for disruption or distraction? Oh please. You know it is very possible that the real meat of the issues have been solved over 2017, 18, and 19…they’re brief entry into F1, and now that those are about to be officially put to the teams there is now time for things like discussions about this trial. You do understand they are simply exploring to see if F1 could be even better, right? And that the teams will have agreed to everything ahead of time? Why fear monger on the teams’ behalf? They’re big boys. What is it you think we or they need distraction from? An improved entity all around? How dare they.

    5. First of all thanks to Keith for my first COTD!!!

      Second, as i stated yesterday in the replies of my comment, this whole experiment idea could be held at a non-championship race. Either replace one of those 2-day tests that take place after the Spanish or British GP with a mini-race test to evaluate possible changes, giving the teams the freedom of not having to worry about the tyre allocation or the PU usage.

      Or to go even further with this idea, stage 1-2 non-championship races around December or Janurary at a suitable venue like Bahrain, where Brawn could test absoloutely everything, without having to stress the teams’ staff by having more tests in the middle of the 22-race calendar. And if they make it an anual thing, Liberty could promote the hell out of it, like staging a “F1 Superbowl” in the middle of the winter break, which would play in nicely in the markets they want to promote, like US or China. Much of the TV revenue it would generate would go back to teams, thus everyone would be happy.

      1. @black – Well-deserved COTD.

        As you note, anything but experimenting during real race weekends is way better than what they are talking about.

  4. Russia has a smooth surface and too many 60° to 90° corners, very hard to follow, aero is important and wake impossible to avoid. I hope it’s less dreadful this time around.

    1. @peartree: Hopefully you’re hope is more robust than my dread. Oh well… at least it’s not a mickey mouse street circuit. Oh wait…

      1. @jimmi-cynic it is one of those you look at the calendar and…book your vacation for that weekend…except you booked with Thomas Cook.

  5. I’d love to see a MurrayMotors T.50 on the grid at LM2021. Then again, I’d love to see a single T.50 made, which I’m not expecting to materialize at all. It’s just another Vaporcar, albeit from the pen of an absolute genius

    1. @uneedafinn2win, I guess that we will have to wait and see what happens, though I believe you are right in that it is still a few years yet before the car is even meant to be going into production (if it does go into production, that is – Murray’s also been trying to get his microcar project off the ground for years, and his plans for designing a new system of producing cars has also not left the drawing board either).

      Equally, the Motorsport Magazine article seems to suggest that the car might compete in 2021, but as far as I am aware the earliest that the T.50 is meant to be going into production is in 2022, with the homologation requirements meant to be that a minimum of 20 road cars must be sold.

      Now, if that is the case, then it suggests that 2022 is probably the earliest that such a car could compete, and maybe even 2023. Admittedly, in recent years the ACO has allowed manufacturers to evade the homologation requirements – Ford, BMW and Chevrolet have all been allowed to run cars that broke the rules – but, even so, it does feel a bit of a long stretch to be talking about Le Mans now when even the base car is still really only in the design phase.

  6. Force India CEO…

    The new name just won’t stick… What was it? Something Pointed?

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