F1 teams push to postpone 2021 rules package

Adam Cooper

In a phone conference this week, team principals discussed a wide range of scenarios including not just unchanged technical rules for 2021 but also a freeze on the development of key components, including chassis, gearbox and other mechanical parts

Aero development would however be allowed to continue to run through 2020 and into 2021 as a key performance differentiator.

It’s understood that in the call nine teams agreed with the principle, with Ferrari asking for more time to consider the ramifications.

A second call has been scheduled for Thursday with F1 chiefs Chase Carey and Ross Brawn and FIA president Jean Todt.

Ultimately, the governing body would make any call on a change to the planned technical regulations.

The agenda is understood to include other pressing subjects such as the calendar, and the possibility of some 2020 races running into January followed by a later start to next season.

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Freezing the regulations is a logical response to the uncertainty created by the coronavirus crisis, with no one able to predict when this season might start or how many races will be held.

All lost races have a direct impact on the income of the teams – except Monaco which doesn’t pay a hosting fee to F1 – and the general hit to the global economy could also have an impact on future sponsorship.

In addition, if car manufacturers take a hit, their associated F1 teams may come under pressure to justify their continued presence on the grid to their top management and boards.

In a pre-emptive move with a view to cutting expenditure and to make best use of cars which are clearly not going to run the 22-race schedule that was planned, teams want the 2020 cars to have a longer working life.

The change would also give teams breathing space as they develop cars for the new regulations, and would mean that much of that development would now fall under the 2021 budget cap.

That would address the concerns of midfield teams who fear that the three major players will spend so much in 2020 on developing the new cars – when there is no budget cap – that they will gain an advantage that will take years to erode.

While they will still be able to spend without restriction in 2020, that won’t be the case through 2021 as they prepare the new cars for 2022.

There is also the question of the new Concorde Agreement, which teams have yet to sign. Holding off on the regulation change would potentially ease the financial burdens of teams that may now have doubts about making a long-term commitment to the sport.

Postponement would also give Pirelli an extra year to develop its 18-inch tyres, with its testing programme having already taken a hit.

If the technical rules are kept in place for 2021, some of the planned sporting regulation changes – such as condensed race weekends – could still go ahead, as well as the complete package of financial regulations.