Every season of Formula 1 brings some significant changes. While the big name manufacturers tend to stay the same and the drivers most likely to do well are easy to predict, the most notable changes usually come with the cars themselves.
According to the Formula 1 website, the cars will be “better looking” due to the aerodynamic changes they have undergone. But the most significant element will not be the aesthetics, but the thrill of seeing more overtaking manoeuvres.
The site explained that the way to enable more overtaking was “finding a solution to the loss of downforce that the current cars experience when running in another car’s wake”. The problem was that a car running through the “dirty air” of the driver in front would lose over 40 per cent of downforce in 2019, but the 2021 design reduces this to between five and ten per cent.
At the same time, teams have had to work within smaller budgets of no more than $175 million (£133 million) per team each year. This may still sound a lot, but it closes the gap between the richest and the rest when it comes to car development work.
Another change is that there will be fewer permitted in-season aero upgrades or replacements of parts like brake pads, while gearbox design changes have been very limited as configurations have been frozen.
Of course, many will pay the most attention to the change in the safety car rules after the controversies of last year’s final race. But when the action begins it will be all about this year’s drivers and cars.
Indeed, with Mercedes appearing to struggle in testing before the opening race in Bahrain, it appears Lewis Hamilton may have other concerns just now as his quest to regain the championship gets underway.