First performance predictions for 2021 cars has team bosses worried

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A first performance prediction of Formula 1's new 2021 cars is raising concerns from teams bosses.

Over the summer, F1 got a first look at the latest prototype design which has been created with an emphasis on allowing closer racing by focusing more on ground-effect aerodynamics.

It was noted at the time that motorsport director Ross Brawn and his team faced a tough task balancing performance while not increasing the turbulent wake.

And now Racing Point boss Otmar Szafnauer says initial performance figures are not great.

“The downforce is going to be a lot less,” he told RaceFans. “So we’re going to be five, six, seven seconds a lap slower depending on where we are.

“[That means] we’re going to be spending $175 million if you spend up to the limit, and then there’s something excluded as well so you’ll have spent $200m to have a formula that’s barely quicker than Formula 2 and where the cars look the same. That’s the risk.”

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In fact, his last point is one shared by a number of teams that by trying to preserve the aerodynamic gains to encourage closer racing it is in fact taking away the chance for designers to innovate.

“I doubt there’s any aero department that’s read those 2021 rules and got particularly excited about them,” Red Bull boss Christian Horner said.

“For any aerodynamicist, prescriptive design is not in their DNA. Some of the regulations were released yesterday I think and there’s probably a few long faces in the aero department today."

Red Bull's biggest strength has been in aerodynamics, thanks to chief designer Adrian Newey, and Horner was cautious on whether that would still be the case from 2021.

“That’s not just unique to Red Bull and our strengths over the last few years haven’t purely been solely down to aerodynamics," he suggested.


"It’s more digesting those rules, they raise some questions which will no doubt be put forward in the coming meetings, which we seem to have endless amounts of, and we will see where they end up.”

Renault chief Cyril Abiteboul though believes there could be room for compromise on the development topic once a greater understanding of the new cars is formed.

“Looking at 2021, it’s going to be such a step-change I think it’s not bad to start with some things that are fairly prescriptive and according to the result that we see, then to progressively open up," he said.

“The world is not going to stop in 2021, there will be years after that, we will have to come up with evolution like always to the regulations and it will always be the time to free up a bit.

"We still have our aerodynamic capacity and departments’ strengths and weaknesses so it will still be a possibility, but I think we need to be careful," he added.

"The last time there was such a massive change to regulations – it was 2014 – and that created a cycle that I understand people criticised a lot for the fact that it locked up a performance differentiator so that’s why I think it’s not bad to do that initially and open up.”