Formula 1 may delay 2021 chassis rule sign-off
The sign-off of Formula 1's 2021 chassis rules could be delayed until December amid concerns from teams that early confirmation may hand a development advantage to the bigger outfits.
Following a productive meeting between F1 teams and the sport's owners Liberty Media this week to discuss the sport's 2021 rules overhaul, there have been some encouraging signs about the extent of progress with ideas.
While details about changes like the cost cap and new revenue distribution still need to be finalised, several team bosses have indicated in private that they are positive about the direction things are heading and there appear to be no major causes for concern.
But there is some time pressure to get things fully signed off because, under the terms of the FIA's Sporting Code that governs all its championships, regulations for 2021 need to be sorted by June 30.
Article 18.2.2 of the Sporting Code states that if there is a 'substantial impact on the technical design of the Automobile and/or the balance of performance between the Automobiles' then rules can only come into force on the second year after the June 30 deadline.
This means any dramatic change to the 2021 rules needs a sign off by that date this year.
While that timetable seems plausible for financial, regularity and engine rules, sources have revealed that teams have discussed delaying an agreement on the sign off of the chassis rules until the end of this year.
It is understood that the push has come because of worries that, if the 2021 regulations are in place as early as June this year, then the bigger teams will throw a lot of resource at the new rules – which could hand them a big advantage over the smaller outfits.
But while a majority of teams support the delay, it is understood that clarification is now being sought to ensure that this does not breach the Sporting Code – or risks the potential for problems further down the road if there is a requirement for unanimous support, or grey areas in the rules are only exposed when it becomes very expensive to change car designs.
If it is agreed that there would be no regulatory problem in delaying publication of the chassis rules until December, then it would fit in with a timetable provisionally suggested by Liberty anyway.
At the end of last year, F1 managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn said that the issue of bigger teams having an advantage by early sight of rules was a concern.
"We don't want teams with a lot of resource to gain a march on those who don't," he said. "But it's a difficult balance because there is a perfectly valid argument that the later you leave the issuing of the information, the more it suits the teams with a lot of resource.
"The teams will have about a year or so to work on the designs of these cars, I think that's the right sort of timescale. Once they've designed their 2020 cars, they need to be able to focus on 2021."
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