Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2020

F1 to further cut downforce for 2021 on safety grounds

2021 F1 season

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Formula 1 is to take further steps to reduce downforce on next year’s cars following the tyre failures which occured during the British Grand Prix.

Pirelli intends to supply its 2019-specification compounds for a third year in a row in 2021. This has arisen partly because the prototype 2020 compounds it developed last year were rejected by teams in favour of the existing rubber.

Following this the planned move to 18-inch tyres, originally planned for 2021, was postponed by a year. The 13-inch 2019 tyres will therefore be needed again next year.

Changes to the cars’ floors had already been agreed for the 2021 F1 season in order to reduce downforce levels and ease the strain on the tyres. The sport’s official tyre supplier Pirelli said it encountered “the biggest forces ever seen” on its F1 tyres at Silverstone.

The FIA advised teams in a letter earlier this week that further reductions in downforce will be required due to recent developments. It did not specifically refer to the Silverstone failures, which occured on both Mercedes cars and Carlos Sainz Jnr’s McLaren.

In the letter, details of which were shared with RaceFans, the FIA advised teams the changes will be made under article 2.2 of the technical regulations. This allows the governing body to make any alterations on safety grounds “without notice or delay”, with the approval of the World Motor Sport Council.

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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...

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38 comments on “F1 to further cut downforce for 2021 on safety grounds”

  1. There seems to be a lot of changes coming in for 2021 for a specification that was supposed to stay still on cost grounds.

    1. And not a single one of the changes is positive at all. What a joke.

      1. A lot of changes? Can you provide a list? From what I can tell it is just to reduce downforce. And it’s for safety. How is that negative?

        1. Oh and yeah of course the quali modes are to be banned too. Can’t really see a negative in that either. I doubt we’ll notice much of a difference.

  2. The teams rejected the 2020 tyres because of the impact on the aerodynamics of the car. Consequently the FIA decides to impose a change to the car which will have an impact on the aerodynamics of the car.

    1. The teams don’t really have anyone to blame here… They were told by Pirelli that we needed new tyres for the season and they rejected them. They then ran tyres right up their limits two weekends in a row and they’ve kind of forced the FIA’s hand to do something about it.

      The options are to either have new tyres which can cope with the current forces or reduce the forces that are being generated. As the teams rejected the first option, the 2nd option is all they have left.

      1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
        13th August 2020, 16:59

        Your assessment is right on petebaldwin!!

      2. It’s all a ploy to end or at least diminish a teams dominance. Mercedes are the best team f1 has ever seen and the FIA have to slow them down as best they can. What’s wrong with letting cars go as fast as they can for as long as they can? This is supposed to be the pinnacle of motor racing, why hold them back??? Let the limits be the humans driving the cars, not the cars holding back the humans

      3. The teams rejected the tires because they were terrible, and not worth redoing aero over. Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t recall Pirelli or FIA sounding the alarms that this would spell disaster in terms of failing tires. There was never any insistence that I’m aware of that the teams best accept the terrible 2020 tires or else. We see on this site a topic that Mercedes hadn’t anticipated what they have been experiencing with the tires.

        So as a result of the chain of events, including that with the pandemic that has them racing at tracks where it is hotter than it would normally be for them, they will run the same cars next year, and they have decided it best now to curtail downforce for next year. As far as I can see that is just F1 dealing with the cards they have been dealt, and I fail to grasp how reducing dependence on downforce is a bad thing. They’re about to practically rid themselves of aero downforce in favour of ground effects anyway. Had Pirelli just made a sturdier tire of the same shape as before and not requiring aero mods, (and who asked them to do that anyway?) then F1 wouldn’t be having to make these adjustments. They certainly can’t just leave the rules alone because as we just saw last year to this, even stable rules see the teams finding more and more downforce one year to the next as well as throughout seasons.

      4. @petebaldwin

        If this change is really about safety and Pirelli had better safer tyres designed ready for 2020 but the teams rejected them why can’t the FIA just order that the new tyres be used?

        The FIA can make changes for safety reasons which is the justification for this change to reduce downforce for 2021 so why couldn’t the same rule be used to say they have to use the new Pirelli tyres.

        Pirelli can set minimum tyre pressures that all teams must use on race weekends and they can also order an increase in these pressures to new higher levels at shot notice, as seen with the changes for the back to back Silverstone races and which a few teams would definitely not have complied with if they had any choice in the matter, yet they are not allowed to supply the tyres which they think are safer.

        So rather than have Pirelli supply better tyres, which they have already designed and tested and that they wanted to supply in the first place but the teams stopped them because they would have to redesign their cars, instead make the teams redesign their cars anyway but still use the older inferior tyre specifications.

        I genuinely do not understand the logic in this.

  3. Try another tyre supplier!

    1. Nothing wrong with tyres. Looked to me from what I saw it was all set up all failures were from the inside of the tyre. Way too much camber. Typical of team’s to blame tyres.

  4. *facepalm*

    I can’t stand this any longer.
    They lost all their brains

    Change tyre supplier! Don’t touch aero!

    #F1DitchPirelli

  5. As if Mercedes will not be the team to suffer the least with reduced downforce.

    In many ways it seems like nothing was learned from previous administrations, and all the same things will be tried.

    1. Esteocon@hotmail.com
      13th August 2020, 17:07

      As if Red Bull isn’t the team to suffer the least with the floor restrictions (and the introduction of the utterly useless front wing change, which benefitted Mercedes the most, as the thin threaded tires did to and the hybrid engines…..).

  6. Yep 4 comments in and 4 moans. Its easy to moan, old ladies do it. You don’t need much skill, just blurt out the first thing you think of and tut.

    Its just boring.

    I for one, and probably only one am glad they are trying to shake things up. I hope they continue and further cause the WI race’fans’ to get upset

    1. That sounds like moaning about moaning :)

    2. Moaning about moaning is a level of meta that would be funny if it wasn’t sad.

      This isn’t a good thing. This is just more overly cautious nonsense.

    3. Yep 4 comments in and 4 moans.

      Reading the comments (again), it seems only the 5th is a real moan.
      There’s clearly no gender or age limit here :P

    4. God i cant stand the “shake things up” garbage. Its the sort of rubbish crofty bangs on about every race weekend. The teams, liberty media and the fia agreed to delay introducing the new cars until 2022 to save money. Now the fia worried that Mercedes are too fast have decided to ban qualifying modes and force teams to make aero changes all that will end up costing teams money.

  7. They really are trying to cut Mercedes advantage, aren’t they? Quali modes and downforce.

    All leaves a very bad taste in the mouth. Excellence should be rewarded, not punished.

    1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      13th August 2020, 17:09

      Hardly believe these will impact Mercedes much. They just have an insane car this year! But Mercedes have had things go their way as well when it comes to rules. The entire point of changing rules during a dominated era IS to shake things up. It happened to Ferrari, Redbull, and possibly now Mercedes. It’s not about “punishing” them for success, but to give the series a shuffle. It’s good for the sport!

    2. In that case let’s get a time machine, go back to 2005 and set the rules how they were in 2004, shall we? More titles for schumacher!

      Rules should be the same for everyone, team A dominates and after a few years fia moves to stop it? So should happen to team B!

  8. Is F1 going backwards and trying to compete with F2? To cover up an issue, creating another!

  9. No mention of car weight?
    Surely that’s a major contributor to tire wear, and if 18″ wheels ever arrive the cars will be even heavier.

  10. I wonder if the changes will again be small according to the FIA, and force a complete aero redesign according to the teams.

  11. That photo reveals the shocking truth? Hamilton actually has 4 arms and 4 legs! No wonder he always wins..
    Will FIA ban F1 octo-pilot ?? :-D

    1. Ahaha, spiderman!

  12. Wait for Mugello…

  13. Despite reading through the article, I still point out that there’s already the modification to the back-end of the floor coming in, so why should any more changes be done before the big changes for 2022? The 2013 race featured similarities with this year’s first Silverstone-race, and yet changes aimed at making the cars faster were done for 2017, so if safety wasn’t a concern at that time, why should it be any different now or for next year? I want F1 cars to be as fast as possible, and since the changes for the season after next are projected to make the lap times 3-3.5 seconds slower, I wish this and the next season would feature at least stable if not faster lap times. Yes, getting faster and faster isn’t a necessity, and not even a possibility as otherwise, the cars would become too fast for the current tracks, but I’d hope for the lap times staying stable from one season to the next, i.e., roughly the same every season.

  14. Completely mystified by this.

    It was agreed to limit development on next years car to save costs because it’s critical to save costs a much as possible, particularly if next year is disrupted by COVID but the FIA just wants to bring in change after change, increasing costs for teams.

    So there’s a chance they will have excess tyre wear… how about they leave it to the teams to manage how they use them instead of artificially trying to manage things.

    1. @dbradock Pirelli has been artificially trying to manage things excessively for years. They blew it with the differently shaped 2020 tires being terrible and forcing the teams to make aero changes they didn’t see worth it considering the tires were terrible. So yeah the teams saved themselves aero development money last year and couldn’t have anticipated that they would ultimately need to spend it after all, for safety reasons. Mind you, they did obviously spend money anyway, for their added downforce didn’t just wander it’s way into the cars. What you are calling ‘excess tire wear’ has turned out to be actual complete failure without warning under some circumstances. So they’ll adapt given these unique circumstances of the pandemic that has forced their hand to keep the cars and tires for next year on the cusp of a wholly new gen in 2022. Let’s cut them some slack for having to adapt to some very unique things that have gone on and that without a crystal ball could not have been anticipated. It is even possible that without the pandemic it likely wouldn’t have been as hot for them at Silverstone or in Spain and the tires may have fared better.

      1. @robbie the teams were aware of severe issues with their tyres and knew they had the potential for failure but chose to continue anyway in the first race.

        In the second one they all managed, even with softer tyres so it is possible to manage that risk.

        I agree about the extra downforce but again – there’s an answer there. Teams don’t necessarily have to wind on every bit of downforce.

        The other thing is that Silverstone is a bit of an outlier in terms of very long corners and extreme forces so it’s quite possible that there won’t be tyre issues for the rest of the season.

        Still seems to me to be a bit of an overreaction.

        1. @dbradock Fair enough. Still don’t recall talk of ‘severe issues’ even for the first race, and even Mercedes say they didn’t have this on their radar, but hey…here we are. And you right that they don’t have to wind on every bit of downforce, and that may be the route they have to take at least at some tracks under some conditions. Certainly at least half the grid would love the kind of downforce Mercedes will presumably or potentially have to dial down this season.

          1. @robbie – certainly the amount that Merc is generating seems way higher than most and then to top it off their PU doesn’t seem affected by the downforce in a straight line.

            I was kinda shocked with them saying that they weren’t expecting issues, or more to the point, when they had failures when Bottas in particular was reporting vibrations from his tyres. Could be me but I got the feeling they knew their tyres weren’t in good shape in race 1.

            What I think took them by surprise was how badly their tyres were destroyed last weekend compared to others when they had the opportunity to plan ahead. I don’t think they were alone there, but at least 1 team did manage pretty well with them.

            I guess the FIA has to act because they just don’t trust the teams not to push over the limits which could cause a catastrophic failure and potentially injury or worse. Still a shame that they have to.

  15. I have not been following F1 as much as I used to and have not had time lately to read all the various articles but before the delayed 2020 season started did they not announce that the rules would stay the same for 2021 so that teams wouldn’t have to go to the expense of designing new cars etc, the only change at the time I remember was that DAS would not be allowed for 2021.

    Then recently I read that there were going to be changes to the aero rules near the front of the car, and one designer commented that because front aero affects the rest of the car it meant redesigning most of the aero.

    Now we have had qualifying engine modes to be banned and more aero changes. Even when the FIA say they aren’t going to make changes to save teams money they just can’t help themselves but make changes, which ultimately increases the costs for teams, and the later the rule change is made the more it will cost the teams as well.

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