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F1 must make real progress on 2021 rules in January – Steiner

2021 F1 season

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Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says Formula 1 must begin to define its 2021 rules package this month to give teams enough time to prepare for the sweeping changes which are expected.

F1 owners Liberty Media have revealed designs for radically different cars, proposed introduced a budget cap and new prize money distribution system along with a raft of other possible changes for 2021. Steiner said discussions over the planned changes are “moving” but he wants to see solid progress before the new season begins.

“We need to know one way or another,” he said. “We just cannot know nothing. That’s always bad if you know nothing in my opinion.

“Even if [you] say ‘this is what it will be’, or at least solid dates, so you can plan for it and focus on it. But in the moment it doesn’t seem to be going that way. At the moment it’s still a lot of talk but no real facts on the table.

“In January we need to get something otherwise we cannot get there. For us ’21 starts [in 2019] it’s not starting, like in any other industry, the year before. You need to start [then] to look at what we need to do because it looks like the rules are changing dramatically and we need to get prepared for it.”

One concern for teams is the possibility of a budget cap which could force them to reduce staff numbers. “If the cost cap comes that means you need to plan beforehand so you don’t have to make decisions which are not good,” Steiner explained.

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As the teams’ commercial deals with the sport’s owners expire at the end of 2020, the following season will be Liberty’s first opportunity to change key aspects of the sport’s structure such as revenue distribution. Steiner urged patience with the sport’s owners when asked whether F1 had improved under their watch.

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“Some things are better,” he said. “Some things are not as I expected because I expected to have clear rules for ’21 and we haven’t got them.

“Other stuff I think they are doing a pretty good job. They announced that there is a new race coming in ’20 so I think they are doing good work on that one.

“But some of the stuff, we still need to give them a little bit of time because they needed to make changes and investments. They made investments obviously because we got less money so I hope they are good investments and more money comes in future. But if you explain that this is an investment we need to believe it because they run the business, not us.”

Liberty does not require the agreement of the teams to introduces it changes for 2021. Steiner believes the sport’s owners will have to accept not all the teams will fully support their plans.

“There will never be 10 happy people,” he said. “If anybody thinks there will be 10 happy people, it’s just not realistic.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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9 comments on “F1 must make real progress on 2021 rules in January – Steiner”

  1. He’s pretty much spot on. Steiner’s comments aren’t all that far removed from this in an article that Dieter produced a few weeks ago.

    If there is to be a major shake up of the regulations (as has been stated by Liberty), it needs to be done very early this year or they will have no choice but to defer changes until 2022/3.

    The budget cap with “glide path” really means any major change won’t actually take effect until we’ll past 2021 and most of the other “ideas” that have been floated don’t seem to have garnered much traction either.

    It’s going to be a very interesting year both on and off the track.

    Thankfully we have Keith and Dieter keeping track of the finer details for us.

  2. What F1 needs is an intervention, because it is addicted to what’s killing it. What F1 needs (and by F1, I mean all the, sigh, stakeholders) is to take a collective deep breath, stop stumbling from one patchwork solution to the next, stop pointing fingers, take long hard look in the mirror, and ask itself: do I have the courage and intelligence to truly learn from past mistakes and draw up a plan that includes all the good knowledge I have, yet assumes only that I want to end up somewhere healthy? And in the case of F1, that means taking great engineering and great drivers and great tracks to produce a racing series that is, gasp, fun. And by fun, I mean interesting for fans, challenging for drivers, and truly competitive for entrants. Now this may all be wishy washy, but fundamentally, I truly do believe that F1 needs to basically wipe its slate clean and design from scratch a formula that just aims to produce good friggin racing. Do I think that’ll happen? Most addicts, unfortunately, remain addicts.

  3. I still think that nothing that they do in terms of trying to improve the racing, increase overtaking etc… is going to end up working because I just don’t think the nature of F1 will ever allow it to work long term.

    This isn’t like Indycar where you can come up with an aero package that allows for closer racing with a higher possibility to overtake or where you can come up with a rules package that gives half of the grid or more a shot at poles, podiums & even wins. There able to achieve that in Indycar because everyone uses the same car so there are relatively few areas for any advantage to be found.

    In F1 you can start off with a good concept which all of the simulations, All of the test’s & all of the data shows will produce the closest racing in history with the higher possibility for overtaking in history yet in reality that won’t be the case because F1 is not & should not ever be a spec category. By the time you have 10-13 teams with hundreds of engineer’s running simulations & wind tunnel models which are far more complex than what the FIA/FOM have an aero package which allows cars to run 3 tenths apart will end up not letting them get within 6 tenths & with more development that will go upto 1 second & then more.

    Likewise expecting half or more of the grid to be competitive for good results is something that in terms of pure performance has not & will not ever happen because even with a budget cap the top teams will still have an advantage which will still be big enough to prevent those behind getting too close.

    1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      4th January 2019, 18:07

      So you think we should give trying to find ways to make F1 better? By better I mean closer.

      F1 will implode if changes are not made to make the racing closer. I Absolutely assert at least half the grid should be capable of winning on their day. More than half is possible. F1 must do whatever it takes to make this happen. This is life or death for F1. You may argue spec parts, customer cars and clever rules to mitigate the positive effects of expensive innovation are not true to the principles of F1 but hey its better to have an entertaining, if a little impure F1 than not F1 at all.

      Budget caps cannot work as you describe, also they are too easy to fiddle. Emphasis should be on competitiveness at a low cost. I’ve described this at length before but for example. Imagine sporting rules which fix the cost of major components. If any supplier or team manufactures these components they must be available to any team at the fixed cost. This way the wealthy teams would effectively financially support the poorer teams. For example Ferrari may make an engine for which the fixed cost is £75,000. Its real worth might be £500,000 but they can’t gain much of an advantage if everyone else can have it too, so they wouldn’t bother. They’d produce a cheaper engine. Hey presto, costs come down.

  4. Perhaps Liberty and the teams are going about this all wrong. If you watch IndyCar or NASCAR when they are on road courses, it’s usually the abundance of full course cautions that keep the races close. Rather than making massive and expensive changes to F1, perhaps the solution is to relax the tire use rules, introduce re-fueling and then bring the safety car out for the smallest of things. With the variety in strategies that the tire and refueling rules will provide, a late safety car could easily mix up the field and provide exciting finishes.

    1. Perhaps this is the only way out (I firmly believe this is the only way out).

  5. F1 won’t have even picked out what tie it wants to wear by 2021.

  6. Compare the quality of the picture heading this thread with the amateur rubbish given to herald the 1,000th GP… which looked like the 3rd place ‘winner’ of a school competition…!
    Just my 2 ¢… ;-)

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