Formula 1’s major rules change could be delayed further to 2023 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.
Formula 1’s rules change could be delayed further to 2023. Amid major concerns over the impacts the global COVID-19 crisis will have on the financial well-being of F1 and its teams, the new technical rules package has been formally delayed from next year until 2022.
In the meantime, teams will carry over their chassis and other components – likely suspension and gearboxes – and only be able to develop aerodynamic surfaces after the 2020 season ends.
However, in an in-depth interview with BBC Sport, Horner claims there is “reasonable agreement” to push the new F1 rules back further to 2023.
“We’re also talking about pushing back a further year the new regulations, because in my mind it would be totally irresponsible to have the burden of development costs in 2021,” said Horner.
“There seems to be reasonable agreement but it needs ratifying by the FIA to push back those development costs into 2022 for introduction in the ’23 season.
“The most important thing we need now is stability. Because the one thing we know is that whenever you introduce change you introduce cost, and stability right now and locking down as much of the car as possible is the most responsible way to drive those cost drivers down.”
It is unclear whether this would mean the current cars continue into 2022 as well, or if further development freedom will be allowed to introduce more fundamental changes.
The uncertainty has led to a raft of major emergency measures being revealed by the FIA to safeguard F1 amid the crisis.
Teams are also adhering to a mix of government restrictions and the FIA-mandated shutdown period, which has been brought forward from the summer and extended from two weeks to 21 days to try to help teams in difficult circumstances.
The FIA has revised its sporting regulations in anticipation of the shutdown period being extended further.
It will consult with teams to determine whether that should happen if “public health concerns or government restrictions continue beyond the shutdown period initially envisaged”.
The FIA says this is “in order to ensure equal treatment as between all competitors”, and Horner said there will be weekly discussions and “I can only see it [the shutdown] being extended”.
“I can see it being extended to the end of April, beginning of May, and then reviewed again,” said Horner. “There will be a discussion among the team principals, FIA and FOM in the next few days.
“It’s the only fair way of dealing with it. What’s right and logical at the moment is everybody abide by the same rules and the shutdown, incorporate FIA conditions to it, until the teams are in a position to go back to work.”
WHY DELAYING NEW F1 RULES TO 2023 WOULD SAVE TEAMS
Christian Horner’s comments to the BBC about delaying the new Formula 1 regulations even further – by another year to 2023 – carry a very strong economic logic.
Because the teams receive their share of F1’s income one year in arrears, their financial pain from the cancelled 2020 races will be felt most keenly next year.
Yet as things stand – with the radical new technical regulations postponed from 2021 by just one year – teams will have to be investing heavily in the new formula cars at just the time their income will be most squeezed.
There could never have been a good time for the coronavirus emergency to hit the world, but its timing has been particularly disastrous for F1 by intersecting with the plan for the new formula.
Combined with F1’s team payment system – which essentially means Liberty will be taking the pain this year, committed to paying teams based on last year’s full season but with vastly reduced income, but the teams will be feeling it next year – the COVID-19 crisis has essentially already impacted across three seasons.
The postponement of the new cars from 2021 to ’22 has at least ensured the new cars are developed while all the teams are subject to the spending cap of $175million.
But spending is only half of the balance sheet. The other is income. The smaller teams – many of which would not be reaching the spending limit anyway – aren’t really helped significantly by the spending cap if their income is vastly reduced.
Together with the development freeze just announced by the FIA, a further year beyond ’21 with the existing cars would ease that financial pressure considerably.
At the moment, this idea is just an open-ended discussion between the teams, but there does seem to be a general open-minded response to it from all of them.
Although the big teams could probably weather the financial storm, there is an understanding that the teams all need each other, that the smaller teams need to be protected as far as possible.
Assuming the specifics can be hammered out between the teams, the idea could then be presented to the FIA.
Under the new ‘emergency powers’ of the governing body announced on Tuesday, such a proposal – if made – could be approved directly by FIA president Jean Todt, without it having to go through the usual channels.
As such, although it’s only an idea at the moment, there seems little reason to believe it won’t happen.
FORMULA 1’S RULES CHANGE COULD BE DELAYED FURTHER TO 2023 – FORMULA 1’S RULES CHANGE COULD BE DELAYED FURTHER TO 2023
F1 2020 NEXT RACE
|GP of Austria||05 July 2020|
|02h00 - 03h30||Free practice 1|
|04h00 - 05h30||Free practice 2|
|04h00 - 05h00||Free practice 3|