Quick guide to understanding the 2021 F1 season: 10 key points

To understand what can happen on the track in the season of Formula 1 2021, which kicks off this weekend with the GP of
Bahrain F1 2021, it is essential to highlight the main changes, novelties and crucial elements that will mark the campaign. For this reason, at Mundo Deportivo, we highlight in this quick guide the key points you need to know in order to better understand what is happening this year.

1. Small changes in the regulations that can be crucial

This course, Formula 1 implemented a small change in the 2021 regulations in which limited the diffuser area (the height of the dividing sheets of this element, reducing them by about 50 mm.) and narrows the back of the flat bottom.

In this way, it is estimated that the cars will lose 10% of downforce compared to last year. This means losing speed when cornering, and therefore reducing the speed per lap of the cars. However, teams have worked relentlessly throughout the winter to reduce this load loss through aerodynamic improvements to their cars.

2. Cars are pure evolutions of 2020

The 2021 rules freeze a large part of the car. Due to the economic crisis, F1 only allowed some areas of the car to be freely changed, and others, to do so in a limited way. To modify the ‘frozen’ areas, each team had two tokens available to spend on changing their car. Along with the tokens, the FIA ​​distributed a list showing how many tokens were required to change the various ‘frozen’ parts. Each team used those tokens as they wished to change the points they felt they were weaker at last year.

Furthermore, aside from these parts of limited development, there were other parts of the car that the sets could change freely without spending tokens: the power unit, the cooling systems, the suspension and all the aerodynamic surfaces.

For this reason, more than ever, the cars of 2021 are a pure evolution of the past year. He does more difficult for a team to take an incredible leap in performance on the grid compared to 2020.

3. Budget ceiling

This course the Formula 1 budget ceiling has been inaugurated, something for which each team has had to reorganize in order not to exceed the limits. With this measure, F1 intends that over the years, the great differences between the most powerful teams and the smallest ones are reduced to a minimum in order to increase equality on the track.

For this year, the budget of the sets has been limited to 145 million dollarsAlthough the large teams will continue to make a difference, because this ceiling will not take into account the salaries of the drivers, the salaries of the three engineers who earn the most in a team, and other marketing concepts. Each year, this budget ceiling will be lowered by 5 million until reaching a limit of 135 million dollars.

4. There have only been 3 days of testing

Due to the global economic crisis, to save costs, the teams only had 3 days of pre-season testing to prepare for the start of the course in Bahrain. It prevented the sets from reaching the first weekend with everything under control. Especially, it hurt drivers who change teams and cars, such as Sainz, with his new Ferrari, and Alonso, on his return to F1 with Alpine. Each pilot only had a day and a half to shoot.

Fernando Alonso, with the Alpine

5. 2022 will mark a lot this campaign

This year, teams will not only have to think about this season. At the same time, they will have to duplicate efforts in the creation of the car of 2022, year in which the regulations of F1 will change completely. It will be a new era, and the double effort involved in creating such a different car for the teams will make them have to limit or outright avoid developing this year’s car.

In previous courses we saw constant improvements in the cars with the passage of the races, something that made the panorama change from the beginning to the end of the course. This year, those who can afford to develop the car while creating another car for 2022 could take a big leap throughout the season. Why? Because
most will bet on 2022 very soon, without evolving their cars.

It is not surprising then that, with cars that are pure evolutions of the previous year, Fernando Alonso is clear that this course will not be able to fight for victories and that he assures that his great goal is 2022, create a competitive car for such a crucial year with a rule change that can change the order of the grid.

6. The position in Builders, doubly key

Apart from the money that F1 distributes to the teams based on their position in the Constructors’ World Cup at the end of the seasonThis year, this classification will be even more crucial due to the ‘handicap’ system. The regulations indicate that, based on the results of 2021, the The winning team of the World Cup will have 90% of the time allowed in the wind tunnel in 2022, while the last classified will have 112.5% ​​of the time, a value that will vary in a staggered manner among all manufacturers depending on their 2021 results. This, in the face of such a huge regulation change for 2022, will be key to determining the time that teams will have to develop their car during the season that comes.

7. A 23-race calendar

The Formula 1 season 2021 will be the longest in the history of the ‘Great Circus’, with a total of 23 races, ending on December 12 in Abu Dhabi. However, like last year, compliance with this calendar will depend on the evolution of the pandemic, which could generate changes such as those that occurred in 2020.

8. The sprint race will be tested on three weekends

In 3 of these 23 races, Formula 1 will test a Grand Prix format change. It is not official yet, but this should happen in Silverstone, Monza and Interlagos, layouts in which an experiment will be carried out to assess whether to introduce this new weekend format for the 2022 campaign.

The main change is that in the 3 days of the Grand Prix there will be something at stake, leaving behind the unrepresentative sessions on Friday. On Saturday, the qualifying session would be replaced by a qualifying race (an hour-long sprint race to define the grid order for Sunday’s long race).

This would be the Grand Prix format of these three events:

– Friday: Qualifying (determines short race grid order)

– Saturday: Qualifying race (determines the grid for Sunday. Points for the first 3)

– Sunday: Sunday race

9. Many new features on the F1 2021 grid

The 2021 Formula 1 grid features many new features. The main one, the return of Fernando Alonso to Formula 1 with Alpine. In addition, the brand new signings of Carlos Sainz for Ferrari, that of Sebastian Vettel for Aston Martin (former Racing Point) and that of Daniel Ricciardo for McLaren. Apart from this, there will be three other new faces, those of the rookies Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), Mick Schumahcer (Haas) and Nikita Mazepin (Haas).

The drivers that make up the 2021 F1 Championship grid
The drivers that make up the 2021 F1 Championship grid

This is the Formula 1 grid of 2021:

Mercedes (Mercedes engine): Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas

Ferrari (Ferrari engine): Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz

Red Bull (Honda engine): Max Verstappen and Checo Perez

McLaren (Mercedes engine): Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris

Alpine F1 (Renault engine): Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon

Aston Martin (Mercedes engine): Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll

AlphaTauri (Honda engine): Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda

Alfa Romeo (Ferrari engine): Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi

Haas F1 (Ferrari engine): Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin

Williams (Mercedes engine): George Russell and Nicholas Latifi

Carlos Sainz, with his new Ferrari SF21
Carlos Sainz, with his new Ferrari SF21

10. McLaren goes to Mercedes

Another of the main changes is the one that has occurred in McLaren. Apart from signing Daniel Ricciardo in the place of a Sainz What’s up Ferrari, The team of Woking It is expected that he will make an important step forward by dressing the Mercedes engine, leaving behind his relationship with Renault and his previous marriage to Honda from previous years.

The English team is expected to be one of the great surprises of the campaign. They have been able to correctly introduce the Mercedes engine in their car, they will gain power with it, and also, they have surprised with a new diffuser concept that can give it a better cornering. As for risky innovations, we must also refer to that of Alpine with its amazing fireplace.