The 2021 Formula One Season, formally known as the 2021 FIAFormula One World Championship is currently the 72nd and current season of the FIA Formula One World Championship, awarding titles to the highest scoring driver and constructor. The season is among the most anticipated in F1 history, featuring a major budget cap and the return of Aston Martin as a de jure constructor.
The season had also been touted as having a major rulebook change, which would see the reintroduction of "ground-effect" to F1. However, as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rulebook changes were pushed back to the 2022 season.
* Mazepin will compete as a neutral competitor using the Russian Automobile Federation (RAF) symbol, after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) extended the World Anti-Doping Agency's ban on athletes competing under a Russian flag. The court also ruled that the ban applied to all FIA-sanctioned World Championships.
Following weeks of speculation and without a drive in 2021, Perez was announced to be racing in Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen, replacing Alexander Albon. Albon will remain in the team as their reserve driver.
The races that were canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the Australian, Chinese and Japanese Grands Prix have returned in the season calendar. The Dutch Grand Prix, supposedly returning in 2020 but was also canceled is also returning to the calendar.
Saudi Arabia is due to host an F1 race for the first time in the city of Jeddah in the form of a street circuit.
Following a new 5-year deal, the Brazilian Grand Prix will be renamed as the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
World Championship Schedule
The original schedule to the 2021 season was released on November 10, 2020.
On January 12, an updated schedule was announced, which saw the Australian Grand Prix being postponed and rescheduled from its original date on March 21 to November 21, following an announcement that the race would have to be postponed due to the country's strict COVID-19 quarantine measures. The Imola and Algarve circuits make their return to the calendar, while the Chinese Grand Prix is also postponed to a yet-to-be announced date.
On April 28, it was officially announced that the Canadian Grand Prix was canceled, and hence the race was replaced by the Turkish Grand Prix, which like the Imola race was intended as a one-off race from the previous season. The Turkish Grand Prix was then announced to be canceled on May 14, due to ongoing travel restrictions, and hence, a reshuffle saw the French Grand Prix moved a week forward and Austria serving a double-header weekend once more. On June 5, the Singapore Grand Prix was announced to be canceled. The Turkish Grand Prix was then announced to be reinstated into the schedule, replacing the canceled slot. Another cancelation came on August 18, with the Japanese Grand Prix having announced to be dropped off. An updated calendar saw the Turkish Grand Prix moved a week behind with the Japanese Grand Prix not replaced, with the Mexican Grand Prix starting the third triple-header of the season. On September 20, it was announced that the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix would take place at the Losail International Circuit, replacing the TBC slot left behind from Australia.
The 70th Anniversary, Tuscan, Eifel and Sakhir Grands Prix from 2020 were not repeated, as they were specifically introduced into the 2020 calendar in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure that as many races as possible could be held.
Races removed from calendar
The Vietnamese Grand Prix, set to host its inaugural race in 2020, was dropped from the provisional 2021 calendar, due to corruption charges on Hanoi's People's Committee Chairman Nguyen Duc Chung, a key official responsible for organizing the race.
The Dutch Grand Prix has been moved from early in the season to between the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix, with the Russian and Singapore Grands Prix swapping places.
Pre-season testing was originally planned to take place at Barcelona from March 2 to 4, but following calendar changes which saw the Australian Grand Prix postponed, teams agreed to host pre-season testing at Bahrain from March 12 to 14, two weeks before the season-opening race.
The 2021 season would see a major overhaul of the technical regulations, following two years of consultations between the FIA, Liberty Media, constructors and drivers following the creation of the FIA Working Group. The main focus of the project was to improve and increase the amount of overtaking in F1, as years of aerodynamic development had made turbulence produced by other cars a major issue. There were also plans to implement a budget cap to control spending, change the rim size of tyres to 18" and increased part standardisation.
The major results of the Working Group's investigations would result in the legalisation of "ground effect", which had been banned in F1's rulebook since 1983.Pirelli, meanwhile, were to implement a new 18" tyre to replace the old 13" that had been F1's standardised tyre size since the 1970s, while teams also agreed to use standardised tyre warmers. The former change was implemented to make F1 more road relevant, increase aerodynamic stability, and for aesthetic considerations, with trials being conducted throughout 2020.
For 2021 constructors will be allowed to develop the underside of their cars (ie the floor) to make it the main generator of aerodynamic grip via the use of of ground effect. This was combined with heavy restrictions on development of aerodynamic devices on the top side of the car, with simplified front and rear wings as well as restrictions on the development of bargeboards. The study by the FIA Working Group suggested that these changes would reduce the downforce loss from following another car from 45% in 2019 to 14% in 2021.
For 2021 all external components of an F1 car must be coated in rubber to help insulate marshals and team engineers from the electrical systems on board each car. Elsewhere, front wings were to be mounted directly to the nosecone, resulting in a lower nose overall, while rear wings were to be mounted higher and with a larger surface area. This was intended to not only make a bigger hole in the air, but also throw the wake from the back of an F1 car higher into the air, creating a larger slipstream effect.
From 2021 a number of standardised parts will have to be used by F1 teams, designed to reduce budgets, reduce the competitive gap between teams, and tempt more customer-style teams to the series. The main systems to be made universal were the gearbox and fuel system, while the front tray on the floor would also be standardised to restrict development. Otherwise, each individual part would fall under one of the following categories:
2021 Part Categories
Parts that must be developed by the constructor/entrant themselves.
Any part that is standardised according to the technical rulebook, with a universal supplier for the entire championship.
Gearbox; Fuel system; Halo
Parts and systems that constructors may develop themselves and then sell to their competitors.
Engine; Clutch; Rear suspension
Parts that teams must develop themselves but according to a heavily restricted rulebook.
Constructors and entrants may collaborate to develop these parts and they may be sold to other entrants.
This classification system was not only intended to outline where and how much a car could be developed, but also ensure that there was some form of base playing field for the 2021 season.
There were plans to change the engine formula in 2021, although this was dropped by the FIA as a result of maintaining costs and a lack of external interest from other major manufacturers.
The main change for the 2021 season to the sporting rules would be the implementation of a budget cap, albeit one that only applied to the development and performance of the car. There were also to be changes to the race weekend format, designed to make a Grand Prix weekend fit into three days rather than four, as well as extensions to the Parc Ferme rules.
For 2021 a budget cap of $175 million would be implemented, with teams legally required to submit financial material to the FIA to ensure that they do not exceed the limit. Furthermore, this budget cap would be somewhat fluid, with an increase of $1 million planned for each race if the calendar exceeded 21 races, while it would decrease by $1 million should the calendar feature fewer than 21 races. This budget cap, which will be regulated by the new Cost Cap Administration, would be active until 2026, with a variety of penalties able to be enforced should a team break them:
2021 Financial Penalties
Late submission or inaccuracy of accounts.
Overspend on the cost cap by 5% or less.
ibid; Reprimand; Point deduction; Race ban; Testing Limits
The Cost Cap will not, however, apply to an entire constructor/entrant's budget, and is instead focused on restricting development. Elements excluded include marketing budgets, driver and senior staff wages and other non-F1 programmes such as factory supported Heritage teams. Furthermore, there would be a separate cost cap of $15 million for teams selling customer engines, while logistic costs will be monitored separately.
The point scoring system would remain unchanged for 2021, and would continue to follow the FIA's standardised system:
2021 FIA Formula One World Championship Points Table
For 2021 the FIA and F1 would eliminate Thursday's schedule of media commitments, which would instead be held on Friday morning. This would result in a more condensed race weekend, while all teams would be required to run a young driver in at least two FP1 sessions across the season. Furthermore, Parc Ferme rules would be implemented from the end of FP3 rather than the end of Q1 in qualifying, in order to reduce the amount of setup work teams could do.
FIA Super Licence
The FIA Super Licence would be slightly tweaked for 2021, with a relaxation on restrictions for young drivers running in free practice. Any driver wishing to run in FP1 or 2 would only require an FIA International A Licence in 2021, although it would also be open to any driver who had competed in two or fewer Grand Prix. Each FP1/2 appearance would also grant a driver one SL point if they completed over 100km.
Introduction of Sprint Races
On the eve of the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix weekend, all ten teams unanimously agreed to trial a new race weekend format featuring sprint races. The format for sprint qualifying would be as follows:
Friday: A one-hour free practice session with two sets of tires for teams to choose freely, and the Qualifying session with five soft tire sets available only.
Saturday: A one-hour practice session with one set of tires for teams to choose freely, and a 100 km (60 mi) sprint race (one-third of Grand Prix distance) with two sets of tires to choose freely. Points are awarded to the Top 3 with a 3-2-1 scoring basis with pit stops not compulsory.
Sunday: Full-distance race with two remaining sets of tires.