Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

Hamilton eager to drive 2021 F1 cars despite criticism

2021 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton says he wants the chance to drive F1’s new generation of cars in 2021, despite having criticised some aspects of the forthcoming rules changes.

The world champion has raised concerns about the expected rise in the minimum weight in 2021. However he said he is encouraged by changes to the car design which should allow drivers to follow each other more closely when in turbulence and is pleased drivers have been invited to give their feedback.

“It’s been a huge step for us to be involved,” said Hamilton. “It’s a big step for all the drivers to be united and I think we’re building a new and better relationship with the FIA, the GPDA and the FIA communicating.

“They’ve been quite open. I think there are things that we ask about and they are like ‘we can’t change it now’ but there’s no such thing as ‘can’t’ for an engineer.

“There’s lots of things that can be improved but the thing they did show us the other day is that the amount [of grip] that you lose behind a car today, what their simulations say that we will lose in terms of downforce behind the new car, I think it looks great.

“So I’m working as hard as I can to make sure I can stay around for then and get to drive those newer cars.”

While one team principal has suggested the 2021 F1 cars could be up to seven seconds per laps slower than currently, Hamilton believes it will be less than this.

“Naturally we don’t want the cars to be slower either. I think they said they’re two or three seconds off so hopefully we can push that forward but some things like weight, we don’t want the car to get heavier but it is going in that direction. But I know they’re working really hard at 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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36 comments on “Hamilton eager to drive 2021 F1 cars despite criticism”

  1. I really hope Brawn is able to fulfill his wish in terms of 2021 regulations rather than having miscarried regulation due to teams having heads in different directions. I would be much better to have drivers a say in new regs as they will be the ones driving those cars rather than teams.

    1. Despite my criticism of various of Brawn’s individual initiatives, I think this is the first time in a long time (forever?) that the shaping of regulations has been so closely controlled by a group of people with the skills to meaningfully structure the regs.

      And with that strength of experience, they will be able to lend a sympathetic ear to the desires of teams, drivers, and other stakeholders, gain their input, participate in discussions, yet be able to chart a reasonably independent set of regulations.

      To me, that – in itself – should be viewed as a success of Liberty’s management.

      1. Well said @phylyp, I see it much the same (hm, so I guess, take my compliment with that grain of salt of possibly feeling confirmed and thus happy to read it ;-)

  2. Because the new regs are so tightly controlled by people who know the aerodynamics etc. There is less chance of one team stealing a huge advantage over the others. I hope anyway.

    1. You say that but since Merc’s domination began they havent just relied on one “magic bullet” no F Duct, no double decker diffuser, no blown rear wing, no flexi wing. The engine has been on par or below the Ferrari since last year so it isn’t that. On top of that the team has changed it’s concept year on year too.

      What i’m saying is, they’ll still be up there and given their ability to react to new regs better than others, maybe further ahead than right now.

      1. And that is perfectly acceptable. Success through merit and smart, hard work deserves it rewards.

        1. @greenflag agreed 100%. If anything I was praising the team as a whole where in F1 it’s too easy to give all the accolades to one designer or concept or on occasion (Alonso) driver.

  3. I would be much better to have drivers a say in new regs

    Drivers don’t know how to design a car. At best they can define some characteristics they like. But even then it needs an independent person/body to distil what is a personal preference only and what truely helps overall racing.

    Reducing minimum (ex-driver) weight should be an objective though; even if they do it over time, e.g. reduce 10kg every year.

    1. should be reply to Chaitanya.

    2. Reducing minimum (ex-driver) weight should be an objective though

      @coldfly – I first read this as former drivers needing to go on a diet, until it struck me you were referring to the weight of the car excluding the driver.

      I’d say today’s a slow day for me, but that stands true every day. ;)

    3. @coldfly I agree. Reducing the overall base weight indeed should be an objective over time to lower it bit by bit here and there.

    4. With regards to weight, yes this year there was a step in right direction in removing driver out of equation. I think current Hybrid engines are the main heavy weight component which needs trimming in overall target to get cars lighter again. Having current drivers give some feedback based on either simulator work or scale aero would be much more useful towards racing.

      1. Incorrect, the cars are heavy because they massively increased the safety standards/crash test requirements and also because of the inclusion of the halo. Also the increased mass of the tires and wheels have increased the mass of the brakes, hubs and both inboard and outboard suspension. The front tire assembly is now so heavy that they require two safety tethers per wheel.

        The hybrids did not increase the racing weight of the cars, the extra mass of the batteries was offset by the lower amount of fuel required.

  4. For 2021, I’ve not heard much discussion about the tyres. i guess they are going to be the low profile pirellis, but has there been any suggestion of how they should behave? are we likely to see for ‘designed-to-degrade’ rubbish? the thermal degradation is such a massive factor in how races pan out these days, it would be good to know someone is putting some greater thought into this. i’m all for soft compounds, and tyres that don’t last all race (not necessarily all races, we need the variety), but something the degrades more progressively over a stint and doesn’t need to be driven 10 seconds off the pace would be hugely preferred.

    1. @frood19 – good questions. I’m terrified that with all the focus on 18″ wheel sizes in 2021, Pirelli will conservatively elect to retain similar tyre compounds.

    2. You’ve hit on quite a good point here – would it matter if the 2021 cars are 6-7 seconds a lap slower than the current cars if the current cars are already regularly lapping anything from 3-10 seconds off their potential pace at most races?

      Surely a slower car being driven at 100% is going to be more fun and interesting to watch than a faster car being driven at 50%?

      1. Surely a slower car being driven at 100% is going to be more fun and interesting to watch than a faster car being driven at 50%?

        True, but that has never been the case for F1. There have always been trade-offs around tyres, fuel, reliability and other factors which meant driving was at 100% for 100% of the time was a less successful option. While it seems to have increased over the past decade or so, it is highly unlikely that F1 will ever lose the “drive slower to save XYZ” aspect. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

        1. Yeah of course, flag to flag races with nobody holding back at any point are unicorns, and for good reasons more often than not. That said, off the top of my head what we saw in the first half or so of the Singapore GP only has analogues with races held at the height of the first turbo era. This obviously means that F1’s panacea cure must be banning the turbo…

        2. @drmouse that is true of course, but races used to be harder and challenge the drivers more. racing a GP at monaco does not require the intense levels of concentration it did in the past because the drivers are so far off the ultimate pace these days, so we rarely see errors (except vettel….). i’m not all that bothered about the speeds, but the level of difficulty needs to be high. if hamilton is driving 78 laps of monaco at nowhere near the limit, he is very unlikely to make an error.

          however, what i would really like to see is the possibility of divergent strategies. it would be great to see a race where tip-toeing round and conserving tyres resulted in a similar race-time as blasting round on soft tyres and making multiple pit stops. currently the regulations do not allow for that kind of variation.

          1. @frood19

            I think most drivers would disagree that there isn’t the same level of concentration required. However, I’m not going to argue with you (as I don’t have any facts or much of an opinion on that).

            what i would really like to see is the possibility of divergent strategies. it would be great to see a race where tip-toeing round and conserving tyres resulted in a similar race-time as blasting round on soft tyres and making multiple pit stops. currently the regulations do not allow for that kind of variation.

            I completely agree. I’d love to see a situation where there were 2-3 very similar strategies available, including a zero stop. To get to that, though, we’d need a few things, including:
            1) Easier to follow/overtake
            2) Tyres which will allow it
            3) No mandatory pit stop/2-compound rule
            4) No “Start on Q2 tyres” rule

            1 should be on the way in 2021, and 2 may happen naturally (we can hope). I don’t see 3 & 4 even being discussed right now, but it may happen after 2021 if we are lucky.

        3. Panther_seraphin
          3rd October 2019, 10:50

          “Its a marathon, not a sprint”

          Yet the WEC cars are treating 24 hour enduros as near 24 hour sprints….

    3. @frood19 actually there has been some movement on this issue. Pirelli conducted a 2021 test on 18″ rims with Sirotkin and a modified 2018 car. There’s an expanded test schedule involving all teams throughout next year and Pirelli have stated they are targetting a low-deg model from next year onwards (although whether they are up to the task remains to be seen)

      1. Oh, that’s very reassuring news.

    4. @frood19 @phylyp There was a story not too long ago saying that Pirelli were aiming for (Having been asked to produce) more durable tyres with a wider working range for 2020 with further improvements planned for 2021.

      Pirelli’s brief for 2020/21 & beyond seems to be to produce tyres that allow drivers to push & race harder for longer periods of time.

  5. It is a bit weird how they are not able to bring the weight of cars down at all. It seems the cars will be even heavier. I’d imagine that going from these huge tires to narrower and smaller tires and effectively a simpler and narrower car the weight could come down at least tiny bit. After all the weight increase in 2017 was a lot about the heavy engines but also about the bigger tires and bigger wings. And the weight increase in 2017 was 26 kilograms. Are the wider 2017 spec tire sizes going to stay? Surely there should be some room to cut down the weight even if the heavy holy cow engines must be left untouched?

    1. @socksolid where did they state the cars will be narrower? I havent seen anything regarding chassis dimensions at all. Only that they are working on reducing the width of the front wing.

      1. It is just my assumption based on that downforce levels will decrease.

    2. @socksolid As far as i’m aware the car & tire widths will remain the same for 2021.

      Part of the reason they made that change in 2017 was to allow the cars to produce more mechanical grip & generate more downforce from the floor/diifuser. Looking at 2021 the wider floor will in theory allow for larger venturi tunnels which should produce more grip, Same with the diffuser.

      Going back to 1998 when they made the cars/tires narrower one the biggest side effects was that they lost a ton of mechanical grip from 97->98 & cars became significantly more twitchy & that ended up putting a greater emphasis than ever before on downforce with more teams looking at X-wings & other flaps, flips ups etc.. to claw the lost grip back.

      I know that in 2005 there was a wide belief in the paddock that practically every change to car design the FIA had mandated from 1994 had ended up making the cars less able to race because they all pushed the cars towards been more reliant on downforce & also been more aero sensitive.
      The post imola changes to wing dimention changes, removing of the splitters under the front wings & stepped floor in 1994. The narrow cars/tires & grooved tires for 1998 & the raising of front wings in 2001/2005 all put a greater reliance on downforce & also made the cars more aero sensitive.

      The changes in 2017 began to undo a lot of that & 2021 will undo a lot of whats left.

      1. The 2021 cars will generate less downforce because they will be slower. How much slower is not yet known but in any case there won’t be more grip. Which is a good thing because these extreme downforce levels ever since 2017 have done nothing good for the sport. For 2017 lots of changes were made and one reason to make the tires bigger was to make it easier for the tires to handle the huge increase in downforce. More downforce means higher vertical, longitudinal and lateral forces on the tires. And stiffer tires.

        As for the tech rule changes in the late 90s technology also developed a lot so more delicate aerodynamic wings could be designed. Naturally the smaller the wing element the more sensitive it is to air flow changes. Just comparing a 1998 car to 2005 there are a lot more tiny winglets, sculpted shapes and curved surfaces on the 2005 car whereas the 1998 car looks almost like it is drawn with a straight ruler. That has nothing to do with the rules. It is all about tech improvement. No team in 1998 had the tools and skills to make as slippery and tightly packaged car as they had in 2005.

        As for your this comment:

        The post imola changes to wing dimention changes, removing of the splitters under the front wings & stepped floor in 1994. The narrow cars/tires & grooved tires for 1998 & the raising of front wings in 2001/2005 all put a greater reliance on downforce & also made the cars more aero sensitive.

        The changes in 2017 began to undo a lot of that & 2021 will undo a lot of whats left.

        F1 has always been aero reliant to the extremest of extreme. The 2017 change all but made it 10000x worse making the cars more reliant on downforce and more sensitive to dirty air. Which is also why the big spenders have only increased their gap to the midfield. But over time with better tech the cars could be made to extract more downforce from the air as they go through it. The increase in downforce is not caused by the rules but the improvements in technology. The 1998/2001/2005 did not put any more reliance on downforce because more downforce is always better. What limits it is drag and this is where the tech comes in. And not just drag and downforce but also being able to better manage airflows and vortices around the car.

        I also disagree with the idea that 2017 and 2021 somehow undo a lot of those changes. If anything 2021 undos mainly almost all of the 2017 changes. Mainly less downforce. The wider cars is only thing I can think of that 2017 undid about the tech rule changes of earlier years.

    3. @socksolid, it has been confirmed by Pirelli that the weight of the wheel assembly is going to increase when they switch to 18 inch rims – the original prediction was that each wheel would be at least 4kg heavier than the current 13 inch rims.

      If the FIA does standardise the weight of the wheel rims by mandating it is a spec part with a single supplier, then the increase in weight per wheel is expected to be higher than that – it is the main driving force behind the proposed increase in minimum weight by at least 30kg that is planned for 2021.

    4. From what I’ve been reading on the technical side of the cars regarding weight, I think the only way they have to make the cars lighter would be to severely limit their overall size, from the small truck sized length and wheel base of today to something similar to the late 80’s, early 90’s cars. But the financial side of R&D to shrink them plus the future cost cap will hinder any development in that direction, so I think we will continue having trucks racing around.

      On a personal note I would prefer teams to be able to develop whatever concepts they choose within the cars, and limit aero or aero related features – in this regard I probably wouldn’t even allow for too much in-season development in this area -, bring back testing in approved non-championship tracks (1, 2 would suffice) and limit simulator test for data gathering. I would also get rid of the 2 compound rule, Q2 tire rule and allow the teams to refuel in race if they choose to.

  6. I have heard a few times now over the years inc this current season, that whatever rule change their is body wise, front wings etc, that the cars will then
    be able to follow closer to each other…and overtake…and am still waiting for it to actually happen. So forgive me if I am slightly sceptical for 2021. Although if anyone can achieve this and make it happen, Ross Brawn can.

    1. Actually this year was the first concerted change to reduce dirty air in years.

      And on the strength of the races between Paul Ricard and Sochi I would disagree that is has not been at least somewhat effective.

  7. I think there is just too much money involved from the biggest manufacturers to do a complete reset.
    Having a revvy engine with a lot of cylinders made from plain cheap materials, and going to this direction with many expensive major parts would do it. More newcomers could afford to manufacture them.
    It ‘d be cool to kick space technics from F1, like 2bhp gains developed by a fuel company for 100M$,
    but they should keep engineering innovations, because being clever and hacky is quite much part of F1, it its safe.
    For example diffusers are quite ok, just like F duct was. Despite of it modern F1 was without diffusers for so long time.

    The downforce, or mechanical grip if once tasted and lost will always feel like phantom pain, although its always very enjoyable to see a car that makes u work hard on the track, or is a top notch artwork of engineering.
    I think almost everyone who likes to race enjoys a wingless Formula Junior / Vee / Ford, altough thats not sophisticated :) Being something in between would be nice.

    With so much money involved it’ ll be so hard to have a fair and reliable cost cap, just like controlling nuclear weapons’ development of some countries. It’s very likely that teams occasionaly go underground, maybe it’s happening nowadays too.

    Ok, at commercials its very rotund to say things like “developed in F1”, but maybe time will come, when top scientists ll be spend a lot of their time to verify the results of AI, because AI just will exceed the human capabilities, at least in terms of bruteforce quantity, so those results will be born anyway. Maybe much later, maybe at less radical extent, but it has a very good probability. So it would be better to go cheaper, you can invent cutting edge and entertainment while retriscted by money too.

  8. Peter Waters (@)
    1st October 2019, 21:46

    The floor pan will increase the weight of the cars. Taking into account the extra length and extra material to construct the ground effect tunnelling. You have to make sure the structural integrity remains. This and the extra weight of the wheels and the stronger suspension will make a significant difference.
    The only weight saving on the floor will be plank will be narrower.

  9. Ofcourse he will be driving in 2021. Most probably for a record 8th World Championship.

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