F1 officials met (virtually) this week for a meeting chaired by Ross Brawn and Chase Carey. These are precarious time for teams and Formula One (let alone the organisers), the latter of which has furloughed staff and cut pay across the board. And they’re the lucky ones. If your team is backed by FIAT, Daimler, a large sports drink manufacturer, or very wealthy oil states, you’re probably OK. But if you’re a team backed by a tool manufacturer, a clothing magnate, or simply a privateer team, then the picture changes. Very quickly.
2021 was supposed to involve the introduction of an entirely new, and sweeping, set of changes to the aerodynamic and chassis regulations. Due to the cost involved in prepping for regulation changes, these were kicked into 2022. Now, this weeks Formula One crisis meeting mooted extending this all the way out to 2023. If that happens, how will racing be affected?
First, we need to understand why rules are changed at all. The idea, in essence, is that as a set of regulations becomes more mature, all the team gravitate towards the same (optimal) aerodynamic solutions. That means that the better funded teams begin to focus all their efforts on development that the spectator never sees; £50k wheel nuts, and £20k air guns for example. The result is that the less well funded teams simply cannot catch-up. By changing the regulations every 3-4 years, so the theory goes, resets all this and allows the smaller teams to catch up. An oft-cited example is Brawn GP winning on their debut.
But in truth, unless you’ve done a bit of a whoopsy (Ferrari 2009), the bigger teams will just throw more resources at the next development phase and wind up on the front row of the first race of the season……just like Honda did in 2009. Or was it Brawn GP?
So, in answer to the original question, how will racing be affected? Not much.