The 2020 Formula 1 season finally has a new calendar, with eight European races confirmed including two at the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone.
F1 will begin with a double-header in Austria on July 5 and July 12, then race in Hungary one week later on July 19.
Silverstone will host the next two races on August 2 and August 9, before another triple-header is completed by the Spanish Grand Prix on August 16.
The European part of the season is currently completed by the Belgian and Italian GPs on their original dates, August 30 and September 6. But Italy hopes to have another race, maybe in Imola or Mugello, if F1 cannot race in Azerbaijan or Russia later in September as hoped.
The start of the season will coincide with the beginning of new cost-saving regulations to stop teams spending vast amounts of money on research and development for 2021 and beyond.
Formula 1 is going to change massively in the next 18 months, starting with this season. Thanks to the coronavirus crisis a radical package of cost-saving initiatives and performance-balancing measures have been approved by the rulemakers.
The budget cap has been in the headlines, reduced from $175m to $145m and then lowered even further after 2021 to $140m in 2022 and $135m in 2023.
But what else is new?
‘Balance of Performance’
F1 teams have aerodynamic development restrictions that were already going to be reduced further.
All teams were only going to be allowed 40 windtunnel runs per week, and to make 2000 CFD items – basically 3D drawings of car parts for development purposes – over an eight-week period.
That base limit will still apply but a new rule means the team finishing last in the championship will get slightly.
So for example if Williams finishes last in 2020, it will be allowed 112.5% of the limits, with each team getting 2.5% less per position, down to the winning constructor having only 90% of the limit.
If the 2019 championship repeats itself in 2020, Mercedes would only get 36 windtunnel runs per week, with each team being allowed an extra run up to Williams on 45.
Mercedes would also be allowed to produce 1800 CFD items every eight weeks, while Williams would get 2250.
From 2022, the handicap will be increased. It will be done in 5% steps. The team finishing last would get 115% of the allowance, dropping to just 70% for the winning constructor.
That would mean Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull would get less than half the number of weekly windtunnel runs they enjoy at the moment.
The winning team would only be allowed to produce 1400 CFD items, while the last-placed team gets 2300. Which is a massive difference.
Engine upgrades to be phased out
Effective immediately the four engine manufacturers will only be able to supply a certain number of specifications of power unit elements.
Manufacturers generally aimed for two upgrades a season anyway, although Honda has gone beyond this the last two years in a bid to catch up with Mercedes and Ferrari.
This year, no changes will be allowed for major combustion engine components, the turbocharger, MGU-H or fuel and engine oil. One change will be permitted for the MGU-K, control electronics and energy store.
They will then be able to change any component over the winter and submit a new engine specification for the start of 2021, which would be in place all the way until 2025.
Only one change per component will be allowed in 2021, 2022 and 2023. But from 2024, no changes will be permitted at all.
Exceptions will only be made for the “sole purposes of reliability, safety, cost saving, car installation and supply issues”.
Teams to be forced to publish certain designs
A new open source system will be introduced, forcing teams to publish some designs on the FIA website.
The parts in the Open Source Components list include driveshafts, pedals and steering columns.
It is designed to save small teams money by giving them top-quality designs to use on non-performance enhancing components, and also deter big teams from spending lots on parts that other teams will be able to use anyway.
Teams must tell the FIA which version of each OSC they are using, and if they supply the OSC to a rival team it must be the same specification.
Development for 2021 restricted by ‘token’ system
As new technical rules have been delayed until 2022, teams will need to use this year’s chassis again in 2021.
Development for this will be managed by a token system, which restricts the number of upgrades teams can introduce on non-aero parts.
The process is complicated but all you need to know is some parts will be frozen at the first round of the season and others not until round eight, and those specifications will be locked in until the end of the 2021 season.
Teams can only make changes by using up the two tokens they are allowed on each part.
Some parts only cost one token, which means they can be updated twice. Bigger components, such as suspension, cost two tokens.
That means teams can only deploy one change in specification once the design is homologated. And there’s no getting the token back – so if a team’s using it, it needs to work.