Brake assembly on a McLaren F1 car

F1 drivers could get grid penalties for brake changes in 2021

2021 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by and

Drivers will receive grid penalties if they use too many sets of brake discs and pads from the 2021 F1 season.

The new sporting regulations, published for the first time today, sets a limit on how many sets of front and rear pads each driver may use during a season. The limit is equal to the number of races in a season, which would allow drivers to use one new set of brake discs and pads per race.

If they exceed that limit, however, they will be given a three-place grid penalty for the first infraction, and a two-place grid penalty for any subsequent infractions in a season.

Front and rear sets of discs and pads are counted separately. Therefore if a driver exceeded the limit for their front and rear brakes at the same race they would incur a six-place grid penalty.

The sport had planned to introduce a standard brakes supplier in 2021, and the FIA had issued a tender for the contract. However this plan has now been postponed until 2023.

Grid penalties for gearbox changes have been revised. Drivers will now have three sets of gearbox cases and cassettes and four sets of gearbox drivelines, gear change components and auxiliary components for a 22-race season. The latter will rise to five races for a 24-race season. If these limits are exceeded, a driver will receive a five-place grid penalty for the first infraction and any subsequent infractions.

Don't miss anything new from RaceFans

Follow RaceFans on social media:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 F1 season

Browse all 2021 F1 season articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

26 comments on “F1 drivers could get grid penalties for brake changes in 2021”

  1. Sounds bit dangerous… It means that breaks will be much less powerful to meet those prolonged durability? Maybe it would be better for racing – longer braking distances etc. But for sure slower cars.

    1. It could mean heavier brakes, to make them more durable. But it’s still insane – safety is mandatory, not something we allow teams to compete away.

  2. Brakes are a safety component – failure of a safety component could result in serious injury or worse to the drivers. Engine and transmission limits are understandable, a failed transmission doesn’t prevent the driver from slowing down and crashing. This seems like a really bad idea, and the risk far outweighs any cost savings.

  3. I call this a stupidity by default. Yeah yeah, we want safer racing, we dont want casualties, etc….we penalise those who will change brakes…so this means everyone will use them as long as possible trying to avoid grid penalties. Do they know that when someone gets into a wall, he most likely shatters brakes as well as the wheel rim? What is next? Limited amount of wheel rims per season, maybe mirrors or number of front/rear wings? When you think there is nothing dumber possible to introduce, someone from FIA steps up to the challenge and shows you it is possible.

  4. Ridiculous, what next? 3 place grid penalties for exceeding the amount of allowed rip off visors or maybe the driver consuming too much water over the full race distance? How much cost would really be saved or is the reason again to make changes simply for the sake of it?

  5. i am soo glad to see the real issues are finally being adressed

  6. Yes, absolutely let’s try and save a pittance on the safety of the drivers. That’ll be the perfect message to send out.

  7. F1 last week: penalizes Max for now slowing down enough
    F1 this week: let’s penalize drivers for slowing down too much

    1. Not slowing down when there is a crash with either driver or marshalls or car on track is dangerous with yellow flags being waved(Heidfeld in Brazil 2002). So is driving too slowly on racing line during qualifying or race (remember the Webber crash in Valencia). Both need to be penalized depending on the case. Seems like you certainly an ape.

      1. Max was fine with the penaulty he was focusing on the right side to go as fast possible he didn’t saw the single yellow flag (left side)

  8. Nope. Nopety nope nope nope. Brakes are for safety. This isn’t just stupid, it’s unlawful or illegal for teams to comply in Europe, the US, and I presume Japan etc as well.

    There’s stupid, and then there’s criminally stupid.

  9. I struggle to understand the reason
    Brake pads are really cheap compared to other components.

  10. At first brush this seems to rank up there as insane but hopefully there’ll be more detail to come.

    I’m prepared to wait as the information available seems a little short of substance but admit to being stunned that a safety feature has been targeted for penalties.

  11. One crash before the race over a weekend that damages a brake assembly, and the driver will be penalised unless they risk using a used set of brakes.

    The great minds in F1 are smarter than me, but they’re not communicating it that well.

  12. It makes no sense. In 2021 F1, not the teams, are introducing a ‘close to new’ formula. Teams will be absolutely green. Drivers even more clueless. Why punish drivers for poor judgement calls by the ‘authority’.

    Pushing teams to use a minimum of brake elements during a season have to be, almost by definition, more dangerous.

    Watching the fastest drivers driving at 75% to protect tyres, protect fuel, hold boost from the previous lap. These are the things that DETRACT from racing. Key word that RACING.

    So now they want to limit their brakes as well? So we will see brakes inadequate to race at every race. What on earth is the benefit of that? If it’s just to save carbon fibre, then cash in and shut down the series.

    Every decent F1 hero of the last four decades has been a late braker. If you Ross, haven’t forgotten this, come here and defend this.

  13. The FIA has the responsibility to police team who are doing something wrong, not to penalize team of every single thing they can possibly think of, no matter how small.

    1. thats the most stupidest rule i have heard thus far.

  14. @dieterrencken How much does a break disc + pad set cost anyway?

  15. All it takes is once crash caused by brake failure and the cost savings disappear in a cloud of car parts.

  16. Is not enough drivers can’t push because the must save the tires, save the engine, save the gearbox, now they must save the brakes, some cars barely get to the end of Canada,

  17. Are brakes and the cost of brakes really a big enough issue that needs this kind of solution?

  18. I had to check the calendar to make sure it’s not April Fools Day.

  19. The Australian Supercars put limits on brakes and pad usage over the season to control costs—they set the figure a few sets above what most teams were already using; preventing the top teams from gaining a slight advantage by chucking on a new set every qualifying and race.

    @dieterrencken do you have numbers on how many sets the midfield teams were using?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.